Shortly after the South Carolina primary ended, the GOP candidates began preparing themselves for the upcoming Florida debates. The first discussion between the four Republican candidates took place on Monday at the University of South Florida in Tampa. The issue of offshore drilling was the main topic discussed at the debate given that Florida’s beaches could be affected by oil spills.
The Sunshine State seems to be mainly preoccupied by environmental issues, which is why Republican candidates had to declare their position in relation to the offshore oil drilling project. This subject was rarely discussed during the previous debates; consequently, the answers that the politicians provided did not please the Florida electors.
The tourism industry in Florida could be seriously damaged by possible spills coming from the oil pipeline that political leaders want to build. Local inhabitants think this is a risk that is not worth taking for the sake of 5,000 industry jobs that the pipeline will create in the area. After all, there are almost one million people who work in the tourism sector at present.
Rick Santorum was not impressed by electors’ preferences; he remained unmoved in his decision even though this might affect his future results in the presidential elections. He told reporters that Florida’s tourist industry is not threatened by the oil pipeline, but by the very bad economy. In his opinion, the high oil prices prevent people from travelling to Florida and as a consequence, most people who work in the tourism sector will lose their jobs.
Gingrich, too, was in support of Santorum’s campaign. He regretted that back in 2008 he appeared in an ad with Nancy Pelosi urging the country to address climate change. Ron Paul continues to be skeptical in relation to the issue of climate change. In 2009, he described the debates and discussions about global warming as “the greatest hoax” of the century.
During the Monday debate, Santorum requested the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. According to him, the construction would help America import crude oil from tar sands in Canada and contribute to the industrial development of the Florida state. President Barack Obama has rejected the permit for the pipeline drawing the discontent of the Republicans.