When Al Gore ran for president in 2000, he de-emphasized environmental issues despite having published the best seller "Earth in the Balance" eight years earlier. Why? Because in 1997, a unanimous Senate signaled its opposition to the Kyoto climate treaty, Gore negotiated the treaty but President Bill Clinton subsequently decided not to submit it for ratification.

Two decades since that treaty's failure, the climate has changed and so have climate politics. Now, instead of dodging the issue, Hillary Clinton has planted her flag as a climate hawk.

Hillary Clinton Plants Her Climate Flag

hillary-clinton-climate-change-policies-newyork-city In a sweeping three-minute political ad titled, "Stand for Reality," Hillary Clinton weaves together multiple threads designed to appeal to voters beyond hard-core environmentalists and frame the climate issue as a moral challenge, an economic opportunity and litmus test of rational governance.

The ad begins with a baby on a swing – not a hippie hugging a tree – as Hillary makes the do-it-for-the-children case. "Future generations will look back and wonder, 'What were we thinking? How could we possibly be so irresponsible?'"

Tagging her Republican rivals as anti-science, she defines herself as "just a grandmother with two eyes and a brain" then sounds incredulous when she sizes up the opposition: "It's hard to believe there are people running for president who still refuse to accept the settled science of climate change."

As she speaks, Republican quotes denying or downplaying climate change fill a sunset sky, with Jeb Bush's "I'm a skeptic. I'm not a scientist" in the biggest typeface.

She shifts to an uplifting portrayal of renewable energy creating jobs and improving health. "Prevents 70,000 Asthma Attacks... Each Year" is seen on a sidewalk next to a child holding chalk. The text "50,000 New Jobs" is placed next to a scientist looking in a microscope.

Hillary Clinton's Subtle Swipe At Marco Rubio

hillary-clinton-climate-change-policies-al-giore-chicago Unlike much of her political advertising we've seen so far in the presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton includes policy goals: "more than half a billion solar panels installed... by the end of my first term" and "a 10-year goal of generating enough renewable energy to power every single home in America."  As she speaks, we see more people working and multicultural families playing, again trying to appeal beyond environmentalists.

Playing the optimism card, she says that Americans "don't hide from change, we harness it." We see animated white lines over video of homes, cities and fields, depicting where solar and wind energy can power our daily lives, helping viewers imagine what's possible. Suddenly, the lines are erased as Hillary warns (in a subtle swipe at Marco Rubio) the wrong decisions "could keep us trapped in the past."

The ad makes it clear that Hillary's political consultants see climate as a wedge issue that makes it hard for Republicans to win over swing voters. It's a sea of change from 2000.

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