Jake Tapper, moderator of Thursday night's CNN Republican debate, asked Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) about climate change's impact on southern Florida, citing the concerns raised by Miami's Republican Mayor Tomás Regalado.
Tapper asked whether Rubio would "acknowledge the reality of the scientific consensus of climate change and pledge to do something about it" as president.
"Sure the climate is changing, and one of the reasons is because the climate has always been changing," he said. "There has never been a time when the climate was not changing."
South Florida's problem, he said, is that it was built on a swamp, and because "there are higher sea levels, or whatever is happening."
"I have long supported mitigation efforts, but as far as a law that we can pass in Washington to change the weather, there's no such thing," he said.
"On the contrary, there are laws they want to us pass that would be devastating for our economy," he insisted, citing the Obama administration's regulations on power plant emissions.
The laws would do "zero" for the environment, Rubio said, because "China and India will still be polluting at historic levels."
"There's no law we could pass that would have an impact on that," he said. "America is not a planet. It's a country."
To recap, in response to a legitimate concern about climate impacts in the state he represents, made by a Republican mayor who has endorsed him, Rubio said both that carbon emissions aren't changing the climate, but also that even if there were a problem, nothing could be done to affect it anyway.
Several minutes later, Rubio unironically related a story about his grandfather, who was born in 1899 "before there were airplanes in the sky" but was alive to see a man walk on the moon.
"You know what he said when he saw that?" said Rubio. "He said, 'Americans can do anything.' Americans can do anything. There is no problem we cannot solve if we embrace all of the principles that made us great."
No problem, that is, except climate change.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich offered a position that was somewhat less couched in denial.
"We don't know how much humans actually contribute, but it is important that we develop renewables," he said. "You can have a strong environmental policy at the same time as you have economic growth. They are not inconsistent with each other.