Interior Nominee Wilts When Barrasso, A Physician, Asks Her Why She Thinks GOP Doesn’t Believe in Science

Interior Sec.-nominee Deb Haaland was ill-prepared to defend her statement that the GOP doesn't believe in science when questioned by Sen. John Barrasso, a physician.

Annaliese Wiederspahn

February 24, 20213 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Tuesday was not a good day for the woman who wants to be the next Secretary of the Department of Interior.

To say that Interior Secretary-nominee U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland didn’t perform well when U.S. Sen. John Barrasso questioned her during the opening day of her confirmation hearing would be an understatement.

If Haaland wants Barrasso, ranking member of Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, to support her, she’s got a tough road ahead.

Unfortunately for Haaland, past inflammatory statements can come back to haunt. 

Case in point: Barrasso brought up one of her tweets from October, 2020 when she said: “Republicans don’t believe in science.”

That’s a difficult statement to defend, especially when there are three Republican doctors, including Barrasso, who serve on the committee. 

Wyoming’s senior senator reminded Haaland of her tweet and exactly who the members of the Energy Committee were.

She was ill-prepared for the entire duration of Barrasso’s questioning but especially during this exchange.

“Just a couple of months ago, you tweeted, ‘Republicans don’t believe in science.’ Pretty broad statement that you made there,” Sen. Barrasso said. “This was in October of 2020, so not too long ago. We’re also Republicans. Do you think that as medical doctors we don’t believe in science? How do you stand by this statement?”

Her response was cringeworthy.

“Senator, I, ummmm, I, I, yes, uhhh, if you’re a doctor, I would assume that you believe in science,” she stammered.

Barrasso replied: “But we’re Republicans as well. It’s concerning to those of us who have gone through training, believe in science, and yet in a broad brush that we’re all disbelievers. It’s a concern.”

To that, Haaland had no response.

How could she have dealt with it? She could have gone the President Trump route: never back down. Or she could have acknowledged it was a mistake.

She did neither. And as such, kept the statement in play.

Although the statement may have appealed to her base, it is hard to defend against medical doctors who happen to be Republicans.

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Annaliese Wiederspahn

State Political Reporter