"One of the things that preceded the failure of the nation-state of Syria, the rise of ISIS, was the effect of climate change and the mega-drought that affected that region, wiped out farmers, drove people to cities, created a humanitarian crisis,” O’Malley told Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin. “It created the … conditions of extreme poverty that has led now to the rise of ISIL and this extreme violence.”
In a statement, Priebus branded O’Malley’s position “absurd,” adding that “it’s abundantly clear no one in the Democrat Party has the foreign policy vision to keep America safe.”
A senior campaign aide with O’Malley, who is lagging badly behind Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in polls, highlighted Priebus's criticism in an e-mail to reporters Monday night and urged the RNC to “bring it on.”
“If Republicans want to have a debate about either foreign policy or science, we have a message for them: bring it on,” said Lis Smith, an O’Malley deputy campaign manager. “On both topics, they are trapped in the past.”
To back up O’Malley’s claim, his campaign distributed a New York Times story from March on a study that concluded that the extreme drought in Syria between 2006 and 2009 was most likely due to climate change and that the drought was a factor in the violent uprising that began there in 2011. The report was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Unlike the Republican Party, [O’Malley] is proud to believe in science,” Smith said.