AUSTIN (KXAN) — During an interview with KXAS-TV in Dallas on Monday, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden clarified comments he made during the second presidential debate about “transitioning” away from the oil industry.
Texas Republicans pounced on Biden’s comments in the days since the debate. Gov. Greg Abbott’s campaign released a digital ad on Tuesday titled “Biden: Bad On Oil, Bad For Texas.”
Biden told KXAS-TV political reporter Julie Fine he was referring to subsidies given to the oil industry.
“No, the oil industry is not going to go away,” Biden said. “The oil company is not going to go out of business.”
After casting her ballot in Round Rock on Tuesday, U.S. Senate candidate MJ Hegar said her stance on energy hasn’t changed. Hegar said she supports “getting on the train” to global, renewable energy.
“I want to fight for energy sector jobs,” said Hegar, a Democrat. “I think John Cornyn looking out for the best interests of CEOs has been causing us to fall behind and causing us to lose energy sector jobs.
“The oil industry is an energy industry. From what I’ve seen, they understand that if they want to be around in 30 years they need to get on board with that next chapter of innovative technology,” she said.
Hegar said embracing new technologies, like renewable energy resources, benefits the country’s national security and efforts to combat climate change.
Sen. John Cornyn’s campaign shared a statement following Hegar’s remarks, saying the Democrat “doubled down” on Biden’s debate comments.
“It’s outrageous that MJ Hegar would go even further than Joe Biden’s disastrous ‘transition from the oil industry’ comments, warning Texas oil companies ‘they better get onboard’ or they’re ‘gonna be in trouble,” said Krista Piferrer, Cornyn’s campaign press secretary.
Michael Webber, the deputy director of the University of Texas Energy Institute, said major oil producers are already investing hundreds of billions of dollars on investments in renewable resources, and the Texas economy is less reliant on oil than it was decades ago.
“A lot of oil companies are saying they have to transition away from oil,” Webber told KXAN. “It doesn’t mean that oil doesn’t matter. It doesn’t mean that these policy statements aren’t relevant. It means they don’t have the same impact as they used to.”
Biden said he “feels good” about his campaign’s chances in Texas, but said he’s even more confident about the Texas Democratic Party’s effort to flip nine seats and assume a majority in the Texas House.
“We put a major effort into Texas to begin with… The Lone Star State has a shot of becoming blue again,” Biden told KXAS political reporter Julie Fine. “We’re on the air in Texas in both English and in Spanish, and we’re devoting an awful lot of money into Texas.”
Biden’s campaign has taken a recent interest in Texas as months of polls have shown a dead heat race with President Trump. Biden faced pressure from prominent Texas Democrats, like Beto O’Rourke, to take the state seriously before reserving $6 million of advertising space in the state.
“We’re connecting with millions of Texans through virtual events, phone banks and text messaging programs.”
Former Gov. Rick Perry told reporters on Sunday that Texas is not a battleground state, and Trump will not visit the state again before Election Day.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who chairs Trump’s re-election campaign in Texas, told KXAN on Tuesday that he predicts the president will win in Texas by 4-to-8 or 4-to-9 points, after saying for months that Trump would exceed his 2016 winning margin of nine points.
“It could be tighter, only because you have so many more voters out,” Patrick told KXAN. “Remember, there are a lot of those Republican voters coming out too.
“There’s no one who’s pro-life… who will vote for Joe Biden. There’s no one who’s pro second amendment who’s going to vote for Joe Biden. There’s no one who understands the importance of the oil and gas industry who’s going to vote for Joe Biden. There’s no one who believes the border needs to be secure who’s going to vote for Joe Biden,” Patrick said.
Patrick said a wildcard in this election is how the 1.9 million new registered voters since 2016 will vote.
A New York Times poll released on Monday found Trump has a five-point edge over Biden in Texas, though a U.T. Tyler poll released a day earlier said Biden led Trump by three points.
Early voting continues in Texas through Oct. 30. Election Day is Nov. 3.