Climate action a core ‘pillar’ of Clinton’s economic message

By Emily Holden | 08/12/2016 08:09 AM EDT

CHICAGO — Combating climate change with investment in renewable power is a main part of Hillary Clinton’s economic platform, the campaign’s political director said yesterday.

CHICAGO — Combating climate change with investment in renewable power is a main part of Hillary Clinton’s economic platform, the campaign’s political director said yesterday.

"When you think about her economic message, this is one of the key drivers to that, so it’s one of the four pillars or five pillars that she’s talked about," Amanda Renteria said.

"What we’ve seen across the board and as she’s traveled in Iowa and Pennsylvania is you have wind turbines, you have this opportunity in manufacturing in clean energy. That’s why it’s a big deal. At the end of the day, it’s going to lead to more jobs."

Amanda Renteria
Amanda Renteria, national political director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, greets state lawmakers at the National Conference of State Legislatures meeting yesterday in Chicago. | Photo by Emily Holden.

Speaking to ClimateWire after a wide-ranging speech to state lawmakers at a meeting in Chicago, Renteria said climate change is a top-line issue for several contingents of voters that the Democratic presidential nominee’s campaign wants to court.

"I think for our progressive Democrats, it’s really important on the climate aspect. For our business Democrats, it’s important for how are we making sure this is building our economy," Renteria said.

Climate change is also one of several issues essential to gaining the support of millennials, as well as Democrats who supported Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, she noted after speaking during a breakfast at a summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

"And you are beginning to see Republicans talk about the opportunities in climate change," she added.

Renteria’s comments came just hours before Clinton delivered an economic speech yesterday at Futuramic Tool & Engineering, an advanced manufacturing facility in Warren, Mich. (E&ENews PM, Aug. 11). Clinton has been touring the country promoting her jobs plan, and on Wednesday in Iowa, she laid out some details, promising to invest billions of dollars in infrastructure and expand employment opportunities via the renewable energy industry (Greenwire, Aug. 10).

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Monday released his own economic blueprint, in which he argued he would create "vast new wealth" by expanding oil and gas production and revitalizing the coal industry in the United States (E&ENews PM, Aug. 8).

Renteria yesterday called Trump’s plan "opposite to anything our party believes in." But she said the Clinton campaign wants to focus on more than just discrediting Trump’s claims.

"We will certainly win votes in this election simply because people don’t want to support Trump … but I don’t want to only focus on Trump in this election, because we have a real opportunity," Renteria said.

Clinton’s economic tour is paired with a strategy to broaden the campaign’s groundwork in states outside the traditional battlegrounds and to assist Democrats in down-ticket races, from Congress to local school boards.

As part of that effort, Renteria said, the campaign is focusing on "expansion states," including Arizona, Georgia, Utah and a congressional district in Omaha, Neb.

"We call them expansion states for a reason — because we believe we can expand the map, and we believe we can expand Democratic voices down the ballot, as well," said Renteria, a former chief of staff in the Senate.

The campaign will continue to rally in states like North Carolina, Virginia and Colorado, she said.

"It’s exactly 88 days until Election Day, and we know we’ve got to work on every single one of those days," she told state lawmakers.

Clinton’s strategy could be key to Democrats in vulnerable races around the country. And it’s core to whether the party can retake the Senate.

State lawmakers yesterday asked Renteria how the campaign would register more Democrats, encourage more women to vote and draw in Sanders supporters, many of whom believe Clinton’s climate goals are not tough enough.

Rep. Joel Briscoe, a Democrat in the Utah House of Representatives, asked whether the staffers had reached out to Sanders about campaigning for Clinton.

Renteria said Sanders was "fantastic at the convention, talking to the delegations. … We have been working with him quite a bit."

Renteria also noted that the campaign set a goal at the Democratic counterconvention in Cleveland to register 3 million voters.

"I can’t say enough how important that is and how seriously we’ve taken that as a campaign," she said, warning that new voter ID laws in some states could hinder participation at the polls.