- The Washington Times - Monday, October 26, 2020

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — President Trump barnstormed across Pennsylvania on Monday as the race for the presidency entered its final week, warning voters that Democrat Joseph R. Biden’s move away from fossil fuels would be an “economic death sentence” for the state’s natural gas industry.

Holding three rallies in this crucial swing state where he trails the former vice president in public polls, Mr. Trump told supporters that he wanted to address “an issue of existential importance to Pennsylvania.” He referred to what he called Mr. Biden’s “shocking admission” during their debate last week that he would transition the U.S. economy away from fossil fuels.

“Joe Biden confirmed his plan to abolish the entire U.S. oil industry. He wants to go with windmills that are made in Germany and China,” Mr. Trump said. “Biden’s plan is an economic death sentence for Pennsylvania’s energy sector. He will eradicate your energy and send Pennsylvania into a crippling depression.”

Mr. Biden began the day with no public events on his schedule, but he emerged from his lair in Delaware and traveled to nearby Chester after the president taunted him about his energy policy.

“I will not ban fracking,” Mr. Biden declared.

Mr. Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California, also tried to stanch negative publicity about Mr. Biden’s comment on the oil industry.

“We will not ban fracking,” she said Monday on ABC’s “The View.”

The former vice president criticized Mr. Trump for failing to negotiate seriously with Democrats on a new coronavirus aid package. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged about 2.3% on Monday on investors’ concerns about the failure of talks in Washington and a rise in cases of COVID-19.

Mr. Trump mocked Mr. Biden’s energy policy and his perceived lack of personal energy. He said the Democrat has “waved the white flag on life” for cowering from the coronavirus.

The former vice president countered that he, unlike Mr. Trump, has refrained from holding “superspreader events” even as he laid out a more robust campaign schedule in swing states such as Iowa, Wisconsin, Florida and Georgia for the final week of the race.

“There has not been a day that hasn’t been a 12-hour day yet,” Mr. Biden told a reporter who asked about his “light” schedule. The president has been campaigning in as many as four states per day, starting early in the morning and often returning to the White House after midnight.

In Martinsburg, Pennsylvania, the president said COVID-19 isn’t the reason Mr. Biden shuns big campaign rallies.

“He doesn’t do them because nobody shows up. That’s why,” he said.

Mr. Trump won Pennsylvania four years ago by a mere 44,000 votes and has seized on Mr. Biden’s misstep on energy policy to mount a comeback in the commonwealth, where natural gas “fracking” is widespread. The president said the result of Mr. Biden’s move to “green” energy would be “mass layoffs, constant blackouts and brownouts, soaring gas prices.”

“That means no fracking, no natural gas, no jobs,” Mr. Trump said at a stop in Lititz, in Lancaster County.

Polls in the state show Mr. Biden leading by an average of 5 percentage points. The president predicted he will win by a larger margin than he did four years ago.

“This is going to be a red wave,” he said.

Trump supporter Christine Yothers of Northampton County said she came to see the president because “I love him.”

“He’s done everything for America,” she said. “He cares about the safety of the country. He’s the most pro-life president ever. He’s for guns, God and keeping the economy safe.”

Andrew Walsh traveled from Long Island, New York, to see Mr. Trump.

“He’s protecting our borders, he’s lowering our taxes, he’s bringing jobs back,” Mr. Walsh said. “He’s getting rid of Nancy Pelosi, hopefully.”

As people at the rally in Allentown chanted “God bless Trump,” Mr. Biden said he hoped to carry Pennsylvania “by the grace of God.” He also said he was confident about his chances in Michigan, Wisconsin and other battleground states.

“The blue wall has to be reestablished,” he said.

Mr. Biden said he had a “fighting chance” to win Ohio, North Carolina and Georgia, where Mr. Trump has led in the polls.

First lady Melania Trump will return to the campaign trail Tuesday in Pennsylvania. She will stop in Lancaster County with former White House adviser Kellyanne Conway. It will be Mrs. Trump’s first campaign appearance since testing positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 1.

The president indirectly acknowledged that heavy early voting in many states may have blunted the impact of Mr. Biden’s comment about the oil industry. Mr. Trump said he was “happy” that Pennsylvanians “always vote very late.”

“A lot’s been learned in the last few days. That debate was important,” he told supporters. “You have to deliver them a thundering defeat. We’ve got to blow them out. This is the whole ballgame.”

Democrats in Pennsylvania have returned mail-in ballots at a rate of 62.6%; Republicans have returned them at a rate of 46.6%.

At the rally in Lititz, few people reacted when the president asked how many had voted already. When Mr. Trump asked how many in the crowd planned to vote, he was met with thunderous applause and cheers.

The president also accused Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, of trying to block Mr. Trump’s three rallies in the state Monday because of COVID-19 concerns. He said the governor, whom he called a “clown,” “made it almost impossible to find any site” for the rallies.

“He’s got your whole commonwealth shut down,” Mr. Trump said as the crowd booed the governor. “Next time, give us a little notice, governor. I’ll remember it, Tom. He tried shutting us out of two other venues.”

Mr. Trump said the governor’s actions point to the need for more Republican poll watchers across the state. “This is the guy who’s counting our ballots?” he said.

Mr. Wolf tweeted that COVID-19 cases are rising again in Pennsylvania, with more than 2,000 positive tests Friday. The state has hat at least 195,695 cases.

The president insisted again that the U.S. is “rounding the turn” on the pandemic. He said the media’s extensive coverage of COVID-19 is a deliberate attempt to hurt his reelection.

“You know, all they want to talk about is COVID,” Mr. Trump said. “It’s ending anyway. By the way, on Nov. 4, you won’t be hearing so much about it. ‘COVID COVID COVID COVID.’”

Mr. Biden noted that Pennsylvania recently experienced the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in a single day. He said Mr. Trump’s actions have led to unemployment rates of 9.2% and 8% in Blair and Lancaster counties, respectively, two of the locations that the president visited Monday.

“The bottom line is Donald Trump is the worst possible president and the worst possible person to try to lead us through this pandemic,” Mr. Biden said. “He just doesn’t have any idea what to do or just doesn’t care.”

Mr. Biden said it is appalling that Mr. Trump has suggested doctors are inflating the number of COVID-19 cases because they can cash in.

“What in the hell is the matter with this man?” Mr. Biden said. “Mr. President, more than 1,000 health care workers have lost their lives fighting COVID — doctors, nurses. They are not profiting; they’re dying.”

The former vice president kicked off the final full week of campaigning in a familiar place: his Delaware home. The contrast between Mr. Tump’s nonstop campaigning and Mr. Biden’s relatively thin public schedule has been a hallmark of the election season.

The Democrat faced backlash after declaring in a televised town hall event in Philadelphia this month that the “Boilermakers overwhelmingly endorse me.”

The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, which represents 50,000 members, has stayed out of the race after endorsing Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

Shawn Steffee, an official with Local 154 in Pittsburgh, told The Washington Times after the event that Mr. Biden was telling “a flat-out lie,” and independent fact-checkers agreed.

Mr. Steffee said he doesn’t want voters to get the wrong impression. He said it is no secret that Local 154, which he described as the largest local Boilermakers union in the country with 1,500 members, endorsed Mr. Trump.

“Our whole industry in Pittsburgh is basically driven by the fossil fuel industry, and President Trump has embraced fossil fuels,” Mr. Steffee said. “The Biden campaign has absolutely denounced fossil fuels. They wanted to do away with fossil fuels. They wanted to do away with fracking, and fracking leads to pipelines.”

“Everybody that thinks that they can do away with the fossil fuel industry and be fossil-fuel-free, they are kidding themselves,” he said.

• Seth McLaughlin reported from Washington.

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

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

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