Ohio Gov. John Kasich suggested that man-made climate change may not be real and that action to fight it could kill jobs during an interview on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday.
"We don't want to destroy people's jobs based on some theory that's not proven," Kasich said when asked by host Chuck Todd if he believes that climate change is man made and that man should do something about it.
Kasich added that "man absolutely affects the environment" but said that he thinks that "as to the overall impact of that, I think that's a legitimate debate."
Despite a headline-grabbing performance in Thursday's Republican prime-time presidential debate, Kasich still faces an uphill battle to prove that he is a viable 2016 contender after nearly missing the polling cutoff to appear on the debate's main stage.
Media attention could yield the publicity that the Ohio governor badly needs to bolster his standing in national polls, but the spotlight will also pressure the candidate to clarify his positions on a wide array of contentious issues, including climate change.
The Kasich 2016 campaign sought to clarify the candidate's remarks following his appearance on Meet the Press, saying: "The governor has long believed climate change is real and we need to so something about it. The debate over exact percentages of why it is happening is less important than what can be done about it. We know it is real, we know man has an impact, and we know we need to do something."
Unlike many Republican presidential contenders, Kasich has expressed concern over climate change in the past.
"I am a believer — my goodness, I am a Republican — I happen to believe there is a problem with climate change. I don't want to overreact to it, I can't measure it all, but I respect the creation that the Lord has given us, and I want to make sure we protect it," Kasich said in 2012.
Comments like that have appeared to set Kasich apart from leading GOP 2016 contenders such as Ted Cruz, who has said that there has been no global warming in recent years.
The Ohio governor has also been quick to tout efforts to cut emissions in his state and he praises clean energy.
"In my state of Ohio, we preciously take care of Lake Erie, we've reduced emissions by 30 percent over the last 10 years, we believe in alternative energy," Kasich said on Sunday.
Some environmentalists have watched Kasich with interest, wondering if he might take a more moderate stand on the issue than some of his fellow Republicans. But Sunday's remarks suggest that Kasich may side with members of his party who say that any kind of overarching action to fight climate change would ultimately hurt the economy and kill jobs.
The vast majority of scientists say that climate change is real, that it poses a threat to the Earth, and that it is driven primarily by human activities like the burning of fossil fuels.
This story has been updated.
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