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This may come as a surprise to some. An overwhelming number of Republicans in the recent South Carolina primary wanted action to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, according to a report by the radio program Living on Earth. This program gives an interesting perspective on what the various Republican candidates think about climate change. For example, Rudy Giuliani says it's real -- but Fred Thompson has mocked the whole idea.

When Mike Huckabee was "asked directly if he believes humans caused global warming, Huckabee said that while he is 'not a scientist,' he thinks 'we ought to act as if that is the case. There is never a downside when it comes to conserving national resources," Huckabee said, according to the League of Conservation Voters.

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Congressman Bob Ingliss, a Republican from South Carolina, told the radio program he has witnessed this shift in Republican opinion firsthand. "I used to pooh-pooh climate change and then my eldest child told me, 'I'm voting now Dad and you'll need to clean up your act on the environment.' So, (laughs) a very important constituency for me—my son!"

Sen. John McCain, who has called global warming a real problem and has staked out the most aggressive stance toward curbing greenhouse gas pollution among all the Republican candidates, happened to win in South Carolina.

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Republicans for Environmental Protection has endorsed McCain, while it refused to endorse George Bush either time he ran for president.  It's perhaps counterintuitive, but could global warming be an issue that helps McCain -- who sponsored an early failed bill to cut greenhouse gas pollution -- win conservative primary voters?

After all even President Bush and arch conservative Newt Gingrich are now saying global warming is real -- although they both want a voluntary approach to solving the problem, which many environmentalists say is unlikely to work.

Readers, what do you think?

Jeff Young of Living on Earth makes this observation: "I think it's worth noting that two of the three Republican candidates with the most primary wins so far are ones who have endorsed the idea of capping greenhouse gases--Huckabee and McCain. Those R's whose campaigns are flagging--Romney and Giuliani--are the ones who would take no mandatory action."

Click here for a detailed breakdown of all the Presidential candidates positions on climate change and other environmental issues.

Note: Some readers have criticized my use of the word "pollutant" to describe carbon dioxide, suggesting that I am displaying bias.  In fact, the US Supreme Court in April ruled that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are pollutants that the federal government can regulate under the Clean Air Act.   Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority:  "Because greenhouse gases fit well within the act's capacious definition of `air pollutant,' EPA has statutory authority to regulate emissions of such gases from motor vehicles."

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