Mr. Edwards, North Carolina Democrat, was the preferred choice of more than a third of the liberal political action committee’s members who watched virtual town hall forums giving each Democrat three questions.
Mr. Edwards, the 2004 vice presidential nominee, outlined his plan to “fight global warming and create a new energy economy” and was the preferred candidate of 33 percent of the more than 100,000 voters.
He received twice the support of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio, who each were favored by 15.7 percent of viewers. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois closely followed in fourth place at 15 percent.
The Edwards plan — which would ban any new coal-fired power plant from being built in the U.S. — aims to reduce greenhouse gases 80 percent by 2050.
Mr. Edwards and Mr. Obama said they would auction off polluter permits and use the money to promote clean energy and alternative fuel research, while Mrs. Clinton said she was “intrigued” by that idea.
Mr. Edwards also pledged to spend $1 billion to make sure America builds “the most fuel-efficient, innovative cars on the planet,” stressing the jobs should go to union members in towns hurt by outsourcing. He said he would create one million new “green-collar jobs,” a term most Democratic presidential candidates are using on the campaign trail.
MoveOn reported that more than 100,000 members tuned in Saturday for the town hall, timed to coincide with former Vice President Al Gore’s “Live Earth” global warming concerts.
It was a record turnout for MoveOn, which hosted an Iraq forum in April and will do a health care forum in the fall. The group will run newspaper ads for Mr. Edwards in the key early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
Mrs. Clinton said fighting global warming will be “my highest priority as president” and is an issue “we’ve got to take on and take on aggressively.”
Mr. Kucinich talked about the need to organize the country under a “green philosophy” to help people understand “that the individual choices we make have an impact on the globe,” and how that leads to better choices on the food people eat and the cars they drive.
Mr. Gore has not completely ruled out another run for the White House and his flirtation is pushing the candidates to talk more about global warming.
But Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, said yesterday he thinks this year’s candidates are not doing enough to make fighting climate change a priority.
“I think that there’s a lot more to be defined and a lot of energy to be tapped into if they were more definitive about the agenda, and I think there’s room for people to be more definitive,” he told The Washington Times in an interview.
He said talking about agricultural practices, pollution and air quality should be “a very powerful and important part of any legitimate platform for ‘08, and I’d like to see it highlighted more.”
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