Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden got several reactions from President Donald Trump on Thursday when he indicated he would seek to end the American oil industry.
“Would you close down the oil industry?” Trump asked his opponent during their debate in Nashville, Tennessee.
“I would transition from the oil industry. Yes,” Biden said.
“Oh, that’s a big statement,” the president said.
The moderator, NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker, asked Biden, “Why would you do that?”
“Because the oil industry pollutes significantly,” he responded.
Trump said again, “That’s a big statement.”
“Basically what he is saying is he is going to destroy the oil industry,” the president said. “Will you remember that, Texas? Will you remember that, Pennsylvania? Oklahoma? Ohio?”
A day later, the Trump campaign was using Biden’s response as an opportunity to go after voters in Pennsylvania, a battleground state where Biden was born.
Joe Biden pledged last night to eliminate Pennsylvania’s fossil fuel industry.
“That is going to hit home harder for the middle class,” said one Pennsylvania mom who used to work in the energy industry. pic.twitter.com/DsDTS67DNd
— Trump War Room – Text TRUMP to 88022 (@TrumpWarRoom) October 23, 2020
The former vice president held about a 5-point lead in the state Friday, according to the Real Clear Politics average.
Biden’s comments on the oil industry might tighten the race, as Pennsylvania has tens of thousands of employees in the energy sector.
More than 53,000 people there work in fuels and 269,000 work in energy overall, according to the 2020 Pennsylvania Energy Employment Report.
Trump also asked Biden to clarify his position on fracking.
“I have never said I oppose fracking,” the Democrat claimed.
“You said it on tape,” the president said.
“I did? Show the tape. Put it on your website,” Biden said.
Trump was happy to oblige.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 23, 2020
While a presidential debate at the end of October is unlikely to change many voters’ minds, Biden’s statements on the oil and energy sector could lose him some undecided voters in key states.
The previous Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, made a similar remark that likely hurt her among Rust Belt voters.
“We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” Clinton said during a town hall when asked about renewable energy during the 2016 Democratic primary.
Let’s face it: Most voters have made up their minds by now, if they have not already cast their ballots. But Biden’s inconsistency on blue-collar jobs could make battleground states in the Rust Belt go red next month, just like they did back in 2016.
Those battleground states are going to decide this election, and Biden’s comments threatening their economy certainly won’t help his chances at the White House.
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