A logical mantra for a presidential candidate that wants to appeal both to the Republican base during the 2016 primaries and also to a mainstream audience during the general election, is to indicate the warming of the planet is "natural". This claim that the warmth of 2015 is "natural" can be supported by indicating that it is part of a trend that has been going on in the short term since the end of "the little ice age" and in the long term since the end of the "ice age".
Given that most of the 2016 Republican primaries will be held during winter, the seasonally cold weather will probably dampen the attention drawn by "global warming" and thus make it easier to down play this issue.
Joining the consensus of climate scientists, and agreeing that mankind is contributing to climate change is going to be challenging for any Republican candidate. The problem is that American voters are unlikely to accept a position of indicating that there is a problem, but not recommending taking any action in regard to the problem. And the various solutions proposed to combat climate change are antithetical to conservative Republicans. New and/or stricter regulations that limit carbon emissions are a non-starter. Supporting a carbon tax would almost certainly be political suicide for a Republican candidate in the primaries. According to a Rasmussen Reports poll, 65% of voters would be opposed to actions that cost them more than $100 a year,
Forty-one percent (41%) say they’re not willing to pay anything more in taxes and utility costs to generate cleaner energy and fight global warming. Another 24% are willing to spend only $100 more per year.Conclusion
Here are some of the positions Republican presidential candidates can espouse on global warming:
1. It's a hoax
2. I'm not a scientist
3. The data is inconclusive
4. Climate change is natural
5. Mankind is contributing to climate change
Of the above, the first (hoax) would be damaging in the general election. The fifth (anthropogenic climate change) would be a vote killer during the primaries. The second and third claims above come across as awfully lame. Thus, the most logical position for a Republican presidential candidate on climate change is the fourth above, that climate change/global warming is natural. It's instructive that Lindsay Graham, the only Republican candidate that suggests climate change denial will be a problem for the party in 2016, is barely registering in the polls
For reference here are links to a couple of sites that:1) explain why the rise in global temperatures is not simply a continuation of a trend, and 2) another site that makes the case that recent "global warming" is natural