Tonight is the last Democratic debate before the Iowa Caucuses, and the first since President Obama threw down the gauntlet on climate change in his final State of the Union address and subsequently halted new coal leases on federal lands1. Tune in with us tonight at 9 p.m. ET to see how the candidates and moderators react.
The Democratic candidates for President are in South Carolina for their fourth presidential debate and the New York Times says "while the previous events had few fireworks, Sunday night’s promises to be a feistier affair."2 That's because with the Iowa caucuses only two weeks away, the race there has gotten much closer -- especially between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
So far, candidates have been asked about nonsense issues and gaffes 100 percent more than they have about climate change.3 But there's reason to think that could change tonight -- if we tune in and tell NBC (the host of tonight's debate) that we want them to #AskOnClimate. Here's why: all three of the leading Democrats on the stage tonight have laid our ambitious plans to tackle Climate Change, but the plans are not all the same or equally clear.4 And with last week's Republican debate being criticized for focusing too much on biting, personal attacks, NBC will be looking for topics and questions that let candidates talk forcefully but respectfully about their differences.5
But it's where they'll be asking that's our biggest opportunity: NBC is streaming the debate on YouTube, and using data and comments there, along with social media, to come up with some of the questions asked during the debate.6 If we show up, not just to watch but to PARTICIPATE on those social media channels we can tell NBC to #AskOnClimate in a way they'll notice.
It all starts tonight, Sunday, January 17, 2016 at 9 ET (8pm CT, 6pm PT), and even if you're not the most computer-savvy person out there, we've made it simple to watch and communicate with NBC through social media.
Tonight's debate will be live from the Gaillard Center in Charleston, South Carolina, and is organized by the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. Anchor Lester Holt, the first African-American to host of a major network’s nightly newscast, will moderate.6
There's no 'undercard' or earlier debate so all three candidates will be on stage at once. It's also these candidates' final chance to make their cases to a national audience before the first ballots are cast in Iowa on February 1, followed by New Hampshire on February 9.
I know it's a holiday weekend and all (more on what we think of this debate schedule another time), but if you're free tonight, wont you join us? Just click here to RSVP and watch with us tonight live online and share your reactions to the latest #DemDebate with your social networks.
Thanks for tuning in -- not dropping out,
Drew and the Debate Watch Crew at Environmental Action
1 - Drew Hudson, Talk and action in Obama’s last #SOTU, Environmental Action Blog, January 13, 2016
2 - Alan Rappeport, How to Watch the Democratic Debate, The New York Times, January 17, 2016
3 - Denise Robbins & Andrew Seifter, Presidential Debate Moderators Obsess Over Political Horserace, Rarely Ask About Climate Change, media matters For America, January 11, 2016
4 - Emily Atkin, One Simple Chart Shows How The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans Have Drastically Changed, Think Progress Green December 8, 2015
5 - John Nichols, This Republican Debate Was Nasty, Brutish and Long, The Nation, January 15, 2016
6 - Michele Gorman, Lester Holt moderating Sunday's NBC news democratic debate, Newsweek, January 17, 2016