Climate Group Targets Congressman Who's Boycotting The Pope's Speech

Six-figure ad buy targets Republican who accused the pope of acting "like a leftist politician."
In this photo taken May 18, 2011, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) speaks at a town hall meeting in Tusayan, Arizona.
In this photo taken May 18, 2011, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) speaks at a town hall meeting in Tusayan, Arizona.

A leading climate group will air a television ad featuring Pope Francis' dire warnings on global warming in the district of a congressman who says he'll boycott the Catholic leader's address to Congress next week.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) announced Thursday he would boycott the pope's speech because it reportedly will focus on climate change.

"If the Pope plans to spend the majority of his time advocating for flawed climate change policies, then I will not attend," Gosar wrote in an op-ed for the conservative website Townhall.com. "When the Pope chooses to act and talk like a leftist politician, then he can expect to be treated like one." 

In response, NextGen Climate, the advocacy group founded and backed by billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, has launched a six-figure television and digital ad campaign in Gosar's district. The group will begin airing an ad featuring the pope's encyclical on climate change this weekend.

"While Congressman Gosar may not want to hear Pope Francis' call to action on climate change, Americans are looking to the Pope for leadership on this critical issue," NextGen Climate press secretary Suzanne Henkels said in a statement.  "We're calling on Gosar's constituents to reach out to their Congressman and encourage him to listen to the pope's urgent call to action on climate change."

Gosar's district in the western part of the state is part of the Phoenix media market. The area already has been affected by rising temperatures. The Phoenix metro area, home to 3 million people, gets less rain than any other major U.S. city, and researchers predict future water shortages. Recent summers have broken heat records, prompting city officials to prepare for even worse heat

"It's real, it's obvious that it's real and we better get on top of it," Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton told The Washington Post earlier this year. "Resiliency within cities is a massive issue, whether we are ready for and are planning for the impacts of climate change." 

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described Gosar as representing greater Phoenix. 

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