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Gov. Scott Walker slammed President Barack Obama’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions at a rapid-fire Republican presidential candidate forum Monday, while side-stepping a question on whether he believes climate change is related to human activity.

Walker was one of 14 candidates to appear at the Voters First Forum at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. It was the first of two events — the second being the first Republican presidential debate Thursday — at which the candidates will start to appear in the same setting, giving voters a chance to compare them.

Walker was asked about Obama’s announcement, made earlier Monday, that his administration will implement a “Clean Power Plan” to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Walker pounced on the proposal, dubbing it a “costly power plan.”

“It would be like a buzzsaw to the nation’s economy,” Walker said of the proposal.

Walker didn’t respond to the first part of the question, in which he was asked if he thinks climate change is related to human activity.

His campaign later responded to an email inquiry posing the same question:

“Governor Walker believes facts have shown that there has not been any measurable warming in the last 15 or 20 years,” spokeswoman AshLee Strong said.

Asked if he would raise the retirement age for Social Security, Walker said he wouldn’t make changes for those at or approaching retirement age but would support changes for younger generations. He didn’t specify what the changes would be.

“For my generation and those younger, yeah, we’re going to have to make some reforms going forward,” Walker said.

The Voters First Forum was sponsored by various media outlets in the early presidential states of New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina.

Candidates filed onto the stage, one by one, to field questions individually from a moderator at the forum. Each candidate received just a few minutes to answer.

Obama’s power plan aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants in the United States by about one-third within 15 years. It relies heavily on wind and solar energy, among other renewable resources, to accomplish the goal.

Walker said at the forum that Wisconsin, in particular, would be “devastated” by the plan.

“I’m an Eagle Scout. We were taught a long time ago, your campsite should be cleaner when you leave than when you find it,” Walker said. “I want to balance a sustainable environment with a sustainable economy.

“But the two have to go hand in hand.”

Conspicuously absent from Monday’s forum was businessman Donald Trump, who has led many recent national polls of the GOP field. Trump “declined to participate,” according to the New Hampshire Union Leader, one of the event’s sponsors. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore also did not take part.

Trump is expected to participate in Thursday’s presidential debate, which will offer the most extensive opportunity yet for voters to see most of the GOP candidates.

The debate will be held in Cleveland and sponsored by FOX News and Facebook. It will include the top 10 candidates as determined by an average of the five most recent national polls.

Capital W: Plug in to Wisconsin politics

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