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Democrats Criticize Upcoming Debate For Not Including Climate Change

When President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden face off Tuesday night in the first presidential debate, there's one topic they're not expected to get asked about: climate.

Thirty-six senators, spearheaded by Ed Markey, D-Mass., signed a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates, urging that climate change receive more attention.

Fox News moderator Chris Wallace plans to ask the two candidates questions from a series of topics ranging from their individual records, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, the economy and the integrity of the election.

The senators point to various climate crises — including the wildfires in the West and the hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico — writing, "The climate crisis isn't coming, it's here."

"It is critical that every debate includes questions that ask the candidates what they would do to address climate change and environmental injustice. Without these topics, any discussion on the economy, racial justice, public health, national security, democracy, or infrastructure would be incomplete," the letter reads.

A recent pollfrom Climate Nexus, Vice Media Group and other climate groups, found that 74% of voters said it was important to ask about climate change during the debates. Inan NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist poll earlier this month, climate became the top priority for likely Democratic voters.

An additional topic Wallace plans to address with the candidates is "Race and Violence in our Cities." The framing of the topic hasdrawn criticism from some corners for conflating the issues of race and violence, with many seeing it as characterizing the nationwide protests over racial injustice and police brutality as inherently violent themselves.

President Trump frequently campaigns on the idea of "law and order" and has pushed for law enforcement crackdowns in cities because of the protests, some of which have led to violence.

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Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.