Campaign '08: Red, Blue and Very Green

Let's face it. When it comes to politics, green has become the new blue. And the new red.

Once a major agenda item only for left-leaning Democrats, climate change is fast becoming a hot issue on the political radar of mainstream American voters -- and presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle have taken note.

"As this becomes of increasing concern to Americans, you are seeing the leading candidates on both the Democratic and Republican side addressing this issue," said Chris Miller of Greenpeace.

Public concern about global warming has risen dramatically, according to an ABC News/Washington Post/Stanford University poll released Friday. Significantly, the poll found that seven in 10 people want the federal government to do something about global warming.

Environmental advocates said people are listening to scientific reports and are alarmed by natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina.

"We're already experiencing the effects of global warming, and people see the actual photos of the polar ice cap and the difference in it's size and hear about polar bears drowning," said Julia Bovey of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The issue has made former Vice-President Al Gore a media darling; he attended the Oscars to accept the Academy Award for his documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," and gives expert testimony about the perils of global warming on Capitol Hill.

For politicians in this climate, going green is like money in the bank.

Democratic presidential rivals Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., and former Democratic Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina,. campaigned separately in Iowa Sunday, urging Iowans to make environmental protection a top campaign issue.

Clinton and Edwards have also pledged "carbon-neutral" campaigns.

Last week, Edwards attended an environmental "Step It Up" event in Fort Meyers, Fla., calling for an 80 percent reduction by 2050 -- the gold standard of climate change policy options, according to Greenpeace.

In Iowa City Sunday, Obama told nearly 5,000 people at a noisy rally not to wait for their political leaders to tackle giant issues like climate change. "It's not going to happen just because of some presidential candidate or because some bills are introduced in Congress," said Obama. "It's going to happen because the American people mobilize around the issue."

Even some Republicans appear to be warming up to the subject of climate change.

Monday, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a 2008 GOP presidential candidate, touted his long-standing position on climate change, calling for caps on carbon and greenhouse gas emissions.

"The world is already feeling the powerful effects of global warming, and far more dire consequences are predicted if we let the growing deluge of greenhouse gas emissions continue," said McCain in a speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. -- one of three environmental policy addresses before he formally announces his candidacy Wednesday in New Hampshire.

California's Republican governor, once famous for drivng a gas-guzzling Hummer, is also riding the green bandwagon.

Posing for the covers of Newsweek and Outside magazines, Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger has toured the nation, scolding Detroit automakers for challenging California's strict car-emissions standards and telling Washington lawmakers they should enact tougher controls on carbon emissions to slow global warming.

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