Whitehouse's office says tornado comments were a coincidence - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Whitehouse's office says tornado comments were a coincidence

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Dee DeQuattro

ddequattro@abc6.com

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse's office says his remarks on the Senate floor Monday regarding tornados in Oklahoma and the Republican Party's stance on climate change was just an unfortunate coincidence.

"Yesterday afternoon Senator Whitehouse took to the Senate floor to deliver his weekly speech about climate change. It was a speech that had been prepared in advance, and which included a general reference to tornadoes in Oklahoma. Tragically, and unbeknownst to the Senator at the time, a series of tornadoes were hitting Oklahoma at the same moment he gave his remarks. Senator Whitehouse regrets the timing of his speech and offers his thoughts and prayers to the victims of yesterday's storms and their families, and he stands ready to work with the Senators from Oklahoma to assist them and their constituents in this time of need," said Seth Larson, spokesperson for Senator Whitehouse.

The local Republican Party was not impressed with Whitehouse's remarks on the . Mark Smiley the chairman of the Rhode Island Republican Party said the Senator's comments were in poor taste. "The tragedy in Oklahoma is not fodder for Senator Whitehouse's rant of the moment, nor is it a distraction from his failings. During this disaster we all need to come to the rescue of those affected, that's what makes us American's.  The economic decline of Rhode Island has been occurring since he took office.  Instead of using a tragedy and garnering attention for his own political agenda Senator Whitehouse should be focusing on what matters," said Smiley.

On Monday, Whitehouse, who often speaks on the Senate floor regarding climate change, went on the Senate floor and said "Why do you care? Why do you, Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, care if we Republicans run off the climate cliff like a bunch of proverbial lemmings and disgrace ourselves? I'll tell you why. We're stuck in this together. We are stuck in this together. When cyclones tear up Oklahoma and hurricanes swamp Alabama and wildfires scorch Texas, you come to us, the rest of the country, for billions of dollars to recover. And the damage that your polluters and deniers are doing doesn't just hit Oklahoma and Alabama and Texas. It hits Rhode Island with floods and storms. It hits Oregon with acidified seas, it hits Montana with dying forests. So, like it or not, we're in this together."

During the nearly 15 minute speech, Whitehouse pointed his finger at the Republicans for ignoring global warming. See full speech here, on the Daily Caller.

Around 3 p.m. yesterday a two mile tornado ripped through Oklahoma City leaving rubble in its path. Whitehouse's office says the Senator was not aware of the situation during the speech which was made at 4:44 p.m. according to CSPAN.

(c) WLNE-TV 2013

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