- The Washington Times
Friday, October 23, 2020

The Trump campaign predicted Friday that former Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s “massive stumble” on transitioning U.S. energy production from the oil industry would dash the Democrat’s hopes in shale-rich Pennsylvania.

“This probably will put the nail in the coffin for Joe Biden in Pennsylvania,” Trump senior advisor Jason Miller told reporters on a conference call. “I think [it will affect] even states including Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota … of course, Ohio, which we already felt in pretty good position. This is really devastating.”

Mr. Biden said during Thursday’s debate that “I would transition from the oil industry, yes,” then sought to clarify his comments, saying he was referring to fossil-fuel subsidies but also reiterating that oil and gas would eventually have to go.

“We’re not getting rid of fossil fuels. We’re getting rid of the subsidies for fossil fuels, but we’re not getting rid of fossil fuels for a long time … probably 2050,” Mr. Biden said on the tarmac before boarding his plane back to Delaware, as shown on video.

Mr. Miller called his comments a “massive stumble” that was compounded by his declaration that he would move toward a net-zero emissions standard by 2025.

“This is pretty startling because we’ve already heard Joe Biden say previously he wants to end fracking, we’ve heard Joe Biden say that he wants to get rid of all fossil fuels,” Mr. Miller said. “What we have not heard previously was this accelerated timetable for Joe Biden to say out loud, that he wants to get down to net-zero emissions by going after energy production and doing that by 2025.”

Toward the end of the debate, Mr. Biden said that “we need other industries as a transition to get to ultimately complete zero emissions by 2025,” although his “Biden Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution” sets a net-zero emissions goal of no later than 2050.

The plan includes “a target no later than the end of Biden’s first term in 2025 to ensure we get to the finish line,” according to the Biden campaign website.

Mr. Biden has argued that his plan would create “millions of jobs” by overhauling the energy sector and infrastructure, while the foes say it would destroy real jobs in coal, oil and natural gas.

“This doesn’t mean that there’s some theoretical-somewhere-down-the-road-effort to get rid of American energy jobs,” Mr. Miller said. “This means within the next five years, anyone involved in fracking, oil production, natural gas — those jobs will be gone.”

Republicans assailed Mr. Biden’s vow to phase out the oil industry, including GOP Senate candidate Jason Lewis of Minnesota, said he was astonished by Mr. Biden’s “bizarre statement at the end [of the debate] that we’re just going to ban a complete industry.”

“Now refinery workers know what miners on the [Iron] range have been feeling,” Mr. Lewis said. “This is not what Minnesotans want to hear.”

Even some House Democrats in swing districts distanced themselves from Mr. Biden’s pledge, with Rep. Kendra Horn Oklahoma tweeting that, “Here’s one of the places Biden and I disagree. We must stand up for our oil and gas industry.”

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said Democrats’ “extreme policies were on display last night when he [Mr. Biden] finally admitted on a national stage to a plan that would eliminate America’s oil industry.”

“Think about the workers in the oil and energy industries in Ohio and Texas in Pennsylvania, out of work,” Mr. Stepien said. “Think about the Minnesotans who be put out of work. You’ve got over 40,000 energy employees stationed in Minnesota, you’ve got two major refineries right in the Minneapolis suburbs. Hundreds and hundreds of workers will be out of work and shut down in Joe Biden’s America. It’s scary stuff.”

The president also warned that Mr. Biden’s health-care agenda to move toward “socialized medicine” would deny coverage “to the sick and the elderly in order to reduce the soaring costs.” He said the Democrats would “obliterate” Medicare and Social Security.

He also said Mr. Biden’s energy plan “would mean America’s seniors have no air conditioners during the summer.”

The president warned that Mr. Biden’s health-care agenda to move toward “socialized medicine” would deny coverage “to the sick and the elderly in order to reduce the soaring costs.” He said the Democrats would “obliterate” Medicare and Social Security.

The crowd outdoors included many people who weren’t wearing masks. Mr. Trump said a safe vaccine for coronavirus is quickly coming.

“We’re going to quickly end this pandemic,” he said. “Normal life will fully resume.”

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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