So, with just 11 days to go to the election, Biden and other Democrats are doing the wrong-time cleanup duty.
“We are not getting rid of fossil fuels,” Biden told reporters after the debate. “We are getting rid of fossil fuel subsidies, but we don’t get rid of fossil fuels for a long time.”
President Donald Trump’s campaign has spent the day cheering for Biden’s remarks, ringing out an appeal with the media on Friday he “put the nail in the coffin” for him in Pennsylvania. But in a sign of their confidence here in the presidential race, many Democrats in critical battlefield condition, including those in the fracking country, are largely ignoring the shoulders.
“I don’t think that’s going to be a problem,” said Democratic Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania John Fetterman, who hails from the western part of the state where there has been a boom in fracking. “I think if you are fundamentally engaged or work in this industry, you have already made up your mind.”
The two 2020 candidates paid special attention to the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania, the Electoral College’s likely tipping state. Trump has described his opponent as hostile to fossil fuels, seeing an opportunity to garner more votes in his western and northeastern strongholds of the state where there are many gas wells. Hoping to limit his losses in these areas, or even reverse some of them, Biden has generally sought to be very careful while talking about hydraulic fracturing and energy.
Biden’s campaign simultaneously adopted a liberal green jobs plan broad enough to appeal to progressive activists – and worked to voice opposition to a fracking ban, including in debates and a shutdown campaign in Pittsburgh earlier this year. His team said the country can achieve net zero emissions by 2050 without phasing out fossil fuels by using tools such as carbon capture technology.
Biden, however, has at times struggled to explain the details of his climate plan. He has distorted his stance on fracking, which the Trump campaign has seized upon to make false statements. Asked during a 2019 debate on the role of coal and fracking in a Biden administration, he replied, “No, we would – we would,” before his campaign later clarified that he did not support a ban.
“It absolutely helps Trump, not only in Pennsylvania, but also in Texas, Ohio and several other key states,” said Charlie Gerow, a GOP strategist in Pennsylvania who has worked on presidential campaigns. “I think even Biden realized he intervened last night. You can see him trying to back down.
Democratic Reps Kendra Horn of Oklahoma and Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico, who represent regions dependent on fossil fuel extraction, quickly distanced themselves from Biden’s comments.
“I disagree with VP Biden’s statement tonight,” Torres Small said in un tweet. “Energy is part of the backbone of New Mexico’s economy. We need to work together to promote responsible energy production and stop climate change, not demonize just one industry. “
State Senator John Yudichak, a former Democrat who registered as an independent last year following big GOP wins in his northeastern Pennsylvania district, urged Biden to further clarify his comments during his campaign in Luzerne County, state, on Saturday. Yudichak endorsed Biden but also repeatedly pushed him to embrace the gas industry.
“The vice president’s comment on ending oil and gas development in the very near future certainly hurts his chance to lock out working class voters in northeastern Pennsylvania and throughout Pennsylvania,” Yudichak said. “We cannot fire construction workers and construction workers. We need to make sure they don’t feel forgotten. “
Pennsylvania Democrats have expressed confidence that Biden’s early comeback means that the fundamental dynamics of the race will not change. Biden leads Trump in the state by 5 to 6 percentage points and few voters say they are undecided. Democrats believe Biden has already convinced some fracking supporters on the sidelines, as they had hoped. They also said fracking was not a major issue for suburban women Trump needed to convince.
“It could have an impact in some of the more rural counties in southwestern Pennsylvania, where Donald Trump was already going to win. Maybe that peels some votes there, ”said Mike Mikus, a Pittsburgh-based Democratic strategist. “But based on all the polls I’ve seen statewide, it’s not enough to close the gap, because it’s a pretty big gap.”
Still, Mikus said Biden “wasn’t clear last night when he answered it, which is why he must have answered it just before getting on the plane. “
One factor that could complicate the Trump campaign’s efforts to focus on Biden’s comments in the same way as a traditional Republican campaign in this situation would be Trump himself. Throughout the year, Trump has moved from one line of attack against Biden to another, but nothing is really blocked.
Bobby “Mac” McAuliffe, director of United Steelworkers District 10 in Pennsylvania, also said many union oil and gas workers have already seen their prospects deteriorate due to the decline in fuel demand caused by the pandemic. .
“USW members in Pennsylvania are deeply concerned about the economy and whether it will rebound from the loss of thousands of jobs in Pennsylvania resulting from the continued lack of federal leadership,” he said. . “Our members have also indicated that their main concern is affordable healthcare, which, between the still raging pandemic and the pressure to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, remains at the center of this election.
The markets began to frown on oil and gas. Large companies like BP plan to deepen the transition to renewables, the Dow Jones Industrial Average delisted Exxon Mobil from the stock market in August, and even before the pandemic-induced recession, banks were avoiding indebted shale drillers who still have not kept their promises. Return. The energy sector, which is largely made up of oil and gas companies, was also the worst performer on the S&P 500.
If Biden comes out of his remarks on Thursday unscathed, it may be in part due to his centrist brand. In 2016, Trump was seen as more moderate than Hillary Clinton, who was criticized after saying, “We are going to put a lot of miners and coal companies out of business.” This year, polls show Biden is viewed by voters as lower than Trump.
After the debate, Robert Heenan, second vice president of the Pennsylvania-based International Union of Operating Engineers, said of Biden’s comments: “What was that?
But Heenan said he is staying with Biden – and doesn’t think he would lose any members of the base because of his remarks – because “I know he won’t hurt the workers.”