- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 24, 2020

Seeking to stop the political bleeding, Joseph R. Biden struck out on the campaign trail Saturday in Pennsylvania, pushing back against President Trump’s charge that he wants to bring the hammer down on the oil and gas industry in the state by banning fracking.

“Look let me be clear,” Mr. Biden said at a rally in Bucks County “I am not banning fracking in Pennsylvania or anywhere else.”

Mr. Biden’s stance on the oil and gas industry is getting extra attention in the wake of the final presidential debate. Mr. Trump said Mr. Biden had delivered a mixed message on fracking over the course of the 2020 race, suggesting he was trying to hide his true position from voters.

During the exchanges, Mr. Trump pounced on Mr. Biden after the Democrat said he would “transition” the nation away from fossil fuels and toward a clean energy economy. Mr. Trump said Mr. Biden has been against fracking.

“I have never said I oppose fracking,” Mr. Biden said.

Mr. Trump countered, “You said it on tape.”

Indeed, independent fact checkers say Mr. Biden falsely claimed he never said he opposed fracking, pointing out to past comments in which he said he would make sure it is “eliminated” and that he opposed “new fracking.”

Mr. Biden and his campaign are trying to clean up the mess, fearing it could zap some of his momentum over the closing days of the battle.

The Trump campaign, meanwhile, is hoping the back-and-forth could help move the needle in Mr. Trump’s direction in states such as Pennsylvania with big energy sectors.

Mr. Biden’s trip to Pennsylvania, which Mr. Trump carried in 2016, comes with 10 days to go before the Nov. 3 election.

The campaign is coming to a unique close given that tens of millions of voters have already cast their votes.

The latest breakdown from the U.S. Election Project showed that over 1.4 million early votes have been cast in Pennsylvania.

Registered Democrats accounted for more than a million of the ballots returned — roughly 55%.

At his rally Saturday, Mr. Biden touted his boyhood ties to Pennsylvania and accused Mr. Trump of “doubling down on his Park Avenue way of looking at the world.”

Mr. Biden focused on Mr. Trump’s response to the coronavirus, saying the president kept voters in the dark on the seriousness of the threat, while tipping off his pals on Wall Street.

“There is going to be a dark winter ahead unless we change our ways,” Mr. Biden said, highlighting predictions that 200,000 more Americans could die from COVID-19 over the coming months. “It will shut down the virus, not the economy.”

Mr. Biden said Mr. Trump is out of touch with the challenges facing working-class families because he “inherited everything” and “got everything in their life given to them, and then managed to squander it.”

Mr. Biden said, “This guy is not on the level.”

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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