Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s effort last week to dodge criticism for his position on hydraulic fracturing led to a morass of misinformation, according to members of a union who are angered that Biden falsely claimed they are supporting him.
Biden has insisted that despite past comments opposing the practice of extracting natural gas trapped between layers of rock, most commonly referred to as fracking, union leaders are lining up to support him because he has no plans to ban the practice.
“The Boilermakers overwhelmingly endorse me, OK?” Biden said Thursday at an ABC town hall event, according to Fox News. “So the Boilermakers Union has endorsed me because I sat down with them, went into great detail with leadership, exactly what I would do, number one.”
Wrong, according to two responses posted on the Trump campaign website.
“I couldn’t believe it when Joe Biden blatantly lied at a town hall right here in Pennsylvania and said he was overwhelmingly endorsed by the boilermakers. As a matter of fact, Boilermakers Local 154 endorsed President Donald Trump last month,” former Rep. Lou Barletta, a Republican who has worked closely with the union, said in the campaign news release.
John Hughes, the Pittsburgh-based local’s current business manager, said Biden’s claim was news to him.
“The other day I’m watching the debate and I see Joe Biden tell everybody that the Boilermakers endorsed him and that is not true, and I would like somebody to tell me who – he said he talked to somebody – I’d like to know who he talked to in the Boilermakers because anybody I talk to did not endorse him,” Hughes said, according to the news release.
“And I believe if you go onto our International website we have not endorsed a candidate this round, nor did the International Boilermakers endorse a candidate last time. We did not endorse Obama and Joe Biden last time because of their energy issues,” Hughes said.
Hughes, in fact, has signed a September letter endorsing President Donald Trump, as Barletta noted in a Twitter post.
Someone should tell @JoeBiden that here in PA the Boilermakers he claims are overwhelmingly supporting him endorsed President @realDonaldTrump last month. pic.twitter.com/yWhB5PKTlx
— Lou Barletta (@LouBarletta_PA) October 16, 2020
Hughes wrote in the letter that it was “imperative that we continue to battle over-regulations in the fossil fuel industries and fight for American energy production.”
“It is with great honor that I write this letter to endorse your campaign as you run for re-election of the President of the United States,” Hughes wrote. “I am happy to support your administration as you have proven to be a true friend of the Boilermakers, and I wish you the best of luck in your campaign.”
Shawn Steffee, a business agent and executive board member for the Boilermakers Local 154, made that support emphatic to The New York Times.
“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris want nothing to do with the fossil fuel industry. He’s flip-flopped so many times, and President Trump has embraced fossil fuels, natural gas and coal,” Steffee said.
“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been totally unclear,” Steffee said. “You can’t have it both ways,” Mr. Steffee said, adding, “My members and my local, we’re done riding the fence. We made a stand.”
Further, the union’s main website said it is not behind Biden.
“The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers has not endorsed any U.S. Presidential candidate for the 2020 Election, and the information contained on this webpage in no way serves as an endorsement by the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers for any U.S. Presidential candidate,” it said.
Charlie Gerow, a Republican strategist, told The Times that the Trump campaign’s efforts to link Biden to a ban on fracking is changing minds.
“I think Trump tying Biden to the Green New Deal works in areas not only where fracking is significant, but across the state. I think it’s helping Trump in the suburbs,” he said.
As for polls that show Biden leading in Pennsylvania, “Donald Trump has always outperformed polls and certainly outperformed them in Pennsylvania,” he said.
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