Joe Biden deepened the rift within the Democratic Party Saturday with an emphatic embrace of Pennsylvania’s energy industry.
“I am not, not, not banning fracking, period,” he assured union members at a plumbers’ training facility in Erie, Pa., a crucial swing county in the battleground state.
Hydraulic fracking of oil and natural gas has fueled a job boom in the Keystone State — but is despised by proponents of the Green New Deal.
Both Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, said repeatedly during their primary campaigns that they hoped to do away with the extraction method. But they have said otherwise in recent weeks — earning disdain from other Dems.
“Fracking is bad, actually,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) tweeted Thursday, after Harris said Biden does not support a fracking ban.
In Erie, Biden delivered an 18-minute speech to about 30 locals — all seated in socially distanced circles — in a parking lot that featured a rack of copper and PVC pipes as a backdrop.
His speech sought to win back the blue-collar votes whose votes helped deliver Pennsylvania to President Trump in 2016 by a 44,000-vote margin.
“The only power we have is union power,” he told them. “You’re the guys who keep the barbarians on the other side of the gate from taking everything, and that’s a fact.”
Biden also raised the alarming specter of election-day violence with an eyebrow-raising comment.
“The only way we lose this is by the chicanery going on with regard to polling places,” Biden said — claiming Trump is “trying to put people in polling places, the same guys you saw standing blocking polling places in Virginia, with banners and rifles slung across their shoulders.”
Later, he tried to walk the thought back.
“I’m going to accept the outcome of this election period,” Biden told reporters. “What I was referencing is the attempts that are made to try to influence and scare people from voting.”
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