Former Congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois, a Republican candidate for president, speaks with a voter at Cherry Glen Learning Farm outside of Polk City, Iowa on Friday, January 24, 2020.

POLK CITY, Iowa – Former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois told a group of approximately 25 Iowans that he feels like he needs to apologize to people about the Republican Party’s denial of climate change.

Walsh, 58, is one of two challengers to President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination for president. He spoke with voters at an event at Cherry Glen Learning Farm outside of Polk City, Iowa last Friday. Walsh has visited the state around a dozen times, has Iowa roots, and plans to stay in Iowa until the Iowa Caucus on February 3rd.

“I am a Republican and when it comes to the environment and when it comes to climate change I am raising my hand to apologize,” he said during brief remarks before taking questions. “When it comes to climate change as a Republican I always feel the need to apologize to my audience. Because I am part of a party right now that is in denial.”

Walsh said he believes President Trump is the one holding Republicans back from addressing this issue.

“We have an idiot in the White House, Donald Trump doesn’t know the first thing about anything, so when Donald Trump says ‘climate change is a hoax’ he doesn’t know what he is talking about. He just doesn’t understand things. But my party, smart people like my former members of Congress, my former colleagues, I’m a former congressman, Republicans in the House and the Senate they know climate change is real. They know we have to take care of the environment. They just say that because fo the guy in the White House,” he explained.

However, Republican opposition to climate change policy and legislation predates President Trump. Also, Republicans have expressed concerns about climate change activists and scientists who appear to cherry pick data, questionable statements regarding catastrophic climate change, and solutions that will slow economic growth with a questionable outcomes in reducing carbon emissions.

“So I want to apologize to you on behalf of my party because my party has been missing at the scene. We’ve got to get with everybody else and have a seat at this table because right now the only people sitting at the table to figure out what we are going to do about climate change and championing the environment are Democrats. Republicans are over in that corner saying ‘It’s a hoax! It’s a hoax! It’s a hoax!,” Walsh said.

He said steps need to be taken now to make an impact 100 years from now.

“So if we get Trump out of the way and more Republicans can encourage my party to sit at this table with the Democrats, with other experts, with people in the private sector, in the business community, activists, and, yes, people in government and we figure out what we need to start doing now so that 100 years from now when I am long-gone… we will have addressed some issues,” Walsh stated.

“The weird thing about climate change is.. ‘Oh c’mon Joe, the world is not going to end tomorrow.’ Right? We all get that attitude, but we have to do things now for what is going to happen 100 years from now. And that is what too many politicians, in my party, don’t get,” he concluded.

Walsh did not get into specifics about what kind of climate change solutions he supports. He also took questions about topics such as immigration reform and why he is running against President Trump.

Watch his full remarks and Q&A below:

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