CNN’s town hall on climate change Wednesday gave the relatively few viewers (compared to Fox News and MSNBC) two particularly memorable moments: One featured front-runner Joe Biden getting “defensive” over a report that he was about to attend a fundraiser with a guy who co-founded a fossil fuel company. The second moment that has stirred up a strong response was delivered by democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who emphatically endorsed “curb[ing] population growth” through promoting abortion and birth control, “especially in poor countries.”
“Human population growth has more than doubled in the last 50 years, the planet cannot sustain this growth,” said a teacher CNN gave a chance to ask a question. “Empowering women, and educating everyone on the need to curb population growth seems a reasonable campaign to enact. Would you be courageous enough to discuss this issue and make it a key feature of a plan to address climate catastrophe.”
“The answer’s ‘yes,'” said Sanders. “Women in the United States of Americas, by the way, have a right to control their own bodies and make reproductive decisions. And the Mexico City agreement — which denies American aid to those organizations around the world that allow women to have abortions or even get involved in birth control — to me is totally absurd.”
The socialist senator then drove home his point about population control in poor countries: “So I think, especially in poor countries around the world where women do not necessarily want to have large numbers of babies and where they can have the opportunity through birth control to control the number of kids they have, it’s something I very strongly support.”
In response, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) issued a news alert that’s ended up making the rounds on social media: “In a surprise move, last night Bernie announced Thanos as his running mate,” he tweeted.
Sanders’ “curb population growth” comments have been met with strong pushback, particularly from the right. But Biden has been met with backlash largely from the left for his performance.
The leader of the left-leaning news, The New York Times, described Biden’s performance at the town hall as “defensive,” particularly when he was asked “the toughest question of the night”: “How can he be trusted to stand up to fossil fuel companies when he has plans to attend a fund-raiser tomorrow hosted by Andrew Goldman, a co-founder of Western LNG, a liquefied natural gas production company.” The Times describes his response:
Mr. Biden appeared caught by surprise at the CNN climate forum on Wednesday night and countered, “He’s not a fossil fuel executive” before pivoting to his history of fighting corporate polluters. Pressed about Mr. Goldman’s role, Mr. Biden said “I didn’t realize he does that” and said he would look into whether the fund-raiser violated his pledge not to accept money from fossil fuel companies. The Intercept, a political news site, first reported the fund-raiser hosted by Mr. Goldman.
“I was told by my staff he doesn’t have any responsibility related to the company,” Biden insisted. “If that turns out not to be true, then I will not, in any way, accept his help,” he pledged.