The second-to-last question asked at Sunday’s second presidential debate probed each presidential candidate on their approach to energy—providing a rare chance to talk about climate change, which thus far has only come up briefly. But even when there’s a question on climate change, it’s not always about climate change.
Trump used the opportunity to talk about the need to protect jobs in coal country and criticized China for illegally importing steel. Clinton said that she liked clean energy, wants America to be “the 21 century clean energy superpower,” and also wants to make sure coal country folk keep their jobs.
In the end, their responses were about how energy affects jobs and also a reminder that China exists and Trump doesn’t care for that country. It was predictable and brief, and if viewers worried about climate change were looking to learn something about either candidate’s stance, they probably came away unsatisfied.