Wagner says he never meant 'young and naive' comment to be 'mean'

Written by Sam Ruland/The York Daily Record | Aug 6, 2018 12:15 PM

FILE PHOTO: Scott Wagner, center, Republican candidate for Pennsylvania Governor, and lieutenant governor candidate Jeff Bartos, left, campaign at a diner in Imperial, Pa. Monday, May 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

(York) -- Scott Wagner, the Republican candidate for Pennsylvania governor, is a man who isn't afraid of anything.

At least that's how his running mate, Jeff Bartos, described him.

At Sunday's town hall at Shiloh Fire Company, Wagner once again was reminded of his exchange with an 18-year-old environmentalist last month. When the woman asked him about climate change, he called her "young and naive."

And those three words have stuck with him ever since. 

The comments largely gained traction on social media, where a video of Wagner's exchange with the female has been viewed and shared more than 5 million times.

When an audience member brought up the incident in York County on Sunday, Wagner said he never meant for these words to be "mean."

"I don't think my 'young and naive' comment was mean or meant to be an insult," Wagner said. "But...I'm 62 years old, and the young lady asking the question was 18. I have a little more experience than she does. And that wasn't meant to insult her in any way." 

"So maybe it was a bad word or choice."

He made sure to show his appreciation for everyone in that audience though, addressing the crowd very broadly before jumping into discussion.

"Those of you that are here -- older, younger -- it's a good thing that you're here," Wagner said scanning the room. "There' a lot to talk about."

A 22-year-old male in the audience wanted to give Wagner the chance to talk about climate change, once again asking the governor-hopeful: "Am I young and naive for wanting a safe future so I can raise my family in Pennsylvania?"

The 22-year-old asked Wagner how he planned to get Pennsylvania on board with renewable energy.

Wagner hesitated before giving his response.

"So climate change is happening," Wagner said. "But let's be realistic -- I do not have an agenda to go to a complete 100 percent renewable energy program because it's not realistic."

This may not have been the answer the male was looking for, but it did give Wagner a chance to provide context where, according to his spokesman Andrew Romeo, he was misunderstood before.

"Scott's point was that he's been balancing efforts to create jobs and care for the environment for decades. Scott has found that the six town halls he's done have fostered productive dialogues with voters. He will continue to do these events and he welcomes Pennsylvanians of all ages and backgrounds to attend them," Romeo said. 

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and The York Daily Record.

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