Capitol Alert

Fiorina, Cruz and Walker respond to Jerry Brown on climate change

California Gov. Jerry Brown, blaming climate change for hot weather that has exacerbated the state’s historic drought, has pressed Republican presidential candidates in recent weeks to address the issue in their campaigns, first scolding them in a letter and then telling reporters, “My message is real clear: California’s burning. What the hell are you going to do about it?”

On Saturday, a rejoinder.

Asked about Brown’s prodding, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said at a gathering of Republican activists that the climate has been changing forever and that “global warming alarmists” are perhaps “just interested politically in more power over the economy and our lives.”

Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard Co. who ran against U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer in 2010, said it “may well be true” that climate change has worsened effects of the drought. Like many Republicans, however, she blamed environmentalists and their Democratic allies for blocking the construction of dams in the state.

“California has had droughts for millennia,” Fiorina told The Bee. “And so knowing that, you would think that you would prepare for droughts by building reservoirs and water conveyance systems so that you could save the rainwater during years when there’s a lot of rain.”

The issue of climate change played little role in the presidential race in 2012, and it has not emerged as a distinguishing issue this year, with a field of Republican candidates expressing a range of skepticism.

In baking sun on a Nevada ranch on Saturday, however, one candidate did see room for more discussion.

Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, said, “I think radical environmental policies that stop things like dams from going in so that water … can be used effectively is something we should be talking about.”

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders