Trump claims Biden isn't 'going to do well in Texas' as Democrat leads in election polls

Unable to hold rallies due to coronavirus, president turns another official event into a campaign stop

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Wednesday 29 July 2020 21:40 BST
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Donald Trump declared victory in what he called a Democratic "war" on the American energy industry, defying polls while visiting a Texas oil rig by predicting he will win the state in November as he once again turned an official trip into a mini-campaign rally.

"As long as I'm president we will never allow anyone to put American energy out of business, which is what they want to do," he said on an oil rig in Midland, Texas. "We unlocked the full energy potential of Texas and New Mexico. ... We have become a net energy exporter."

The president announced export authorisations for US liquified natural gas will be extended well into the future, through 2050. "That seems like a long time," Mr Trump said, claiming his administration is also safeguarding the environment -- though conservation groups and congressional Democrats sharply disagree, saying he has taken a blow torch to regulations and other environmental safeguards.

He touted "800,000 new energy jobs" he contended his administration created across the country before the coronavirus recession kicked in, saying one-third of those were in Texas. "We're back," he declared, despite recent volatility in crude oil prices and US production rates, with crude prices hovering around $40 per barrel after hitting nearly $69 per barrel in April 2019. He criticised Democrats for opposing fracking, which also will be a big issue in another key swing state: Pennsylvania.

With the 2020 presidential race on his mind, he accused Democrats of proposing to "wipe out your jobs". He attempted once again to link his presumptive general election foe, former Vice President Joe Biden, to the Democratic Party's progressive wing and its "Green New Deal", which he mocked: "No drilling, no fracking, no shale, no oil, no gas", and claimed it pitches a ban on all cows.

Donald Trump arrives to deliver remarks about American energy production during a visit to the Double Eagle Energy Oil Rig in Midland, Texas on 29 July, 2020
Donald Trump arrives to deliver remarks about American energy production during a visit to the Double Eagle Energy Oil Rig in Midland, Texas on 29 July, 2020 (AP)

"I don't think Biden is going to do too well in Texas," the president said, despite multiple polls suggesting otherwise, before minutes later warning about violence in cities with mayors from the opposition party: "[Democrats] want to ... leave every city at the mercy of the radical left."

Global crude oil prices have dropped since the Covid-19 pandemic began early this spring, with US oil production down sharply after swelling in the second half of 2019. But in recent weeks, production has been on the uptick, according to

The president was in the Lone Star State where some polls showing him trailing Mr Biden in a state that has been a GOP stronghold since 1976. Mr Trump likely could not capture a second term if Mr Biden won the state's whopping haul of 38 Electoral College votes.

The non-partisan Cook Political Report lists the state as "lean Republican", writing in a blog post: "There is evidence that Texas is very much in play at the presidential level." Inside Elections with Nathan L Gonzalez, also non-partisan, ranks it "tilt Republican".

Mr Trump took the state by 9 percentage points in 2016 over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But Mr Biden leads the incumbent there 47 per cent to 45 per cent less than 100 days from election day, according to a new poll from Morning Consult and Politico released on Wednesday morning.

"We will defend the Lone Star State," Mr Trump said in Midland. "I love this state."

That new survey underscores dramatic shifts in polls around the country since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, when Mr Trump led in several key swing states and others he won rather easily four years ago. He led the former VP by 7 percentage points in Texas two months ago, according to an earlier version of the same survey.

"I'm not quite ready to believe that Texas is really in play, but I'm now willing to suspend my disbelief," said one Washington-based political operative, granted anonymity to speak freely. "Things have been going so poorly for the president for so long that even in places like Texas and Florida and Georgia, where he didn't have to work that hard in 2016, are going to be really big fights for him between now and November."

Before he arrived in Midland, Mr Trump hosted a campaign fundraiser in Odessa.

That event was expected to raise $7m for the Republican National Committee and Mr Trump's campaign via the Trump Victory organisation, which also doles out monies to 22 state GOP parties. Tickets to the closed-door political pep rally went for $2,800 each, with attendees able to get a picture with the president for the price of $50,000, according to a Texas television station.

A seat at a roundtable discussion he held in Odessa went for $100,000, KOSA-TV reported.

Don't mask with Texas

Attendees at the fundraiser were spotted by reporters travelling with Mr Trump as they headed into the ballroom. Many were not wearing masks to guard against contracting or spreading the coronavirus, even though Texas has become a hotspot.

Mr Trump went ahead with the Texas trip despite recently referring to the surge of coronavirus cases in the entire Sun Belt region as serious. But by Tuesday evening, he was painting the situation in America's southern states as on the turnaround.

"We're seeing improvements across the major metro areas and most hotspots. You can look at large portions of our country, it's corona-free," he said in a statement undermined by his own administration's data.

"But we are watching very carefully California, Arizona, Texas, and most of Florida," he said, making clear the Lone Star is among the most Covid-covered states. "It's starting to head down in the right direction, and I think you'll see it rapidly head down very soon."

Not in Midland County and neighbouring Ector County. Both have seen a sharp increase in coronavirus cases and deaths since 1 July, with the latter ballooning from 1,259 to 3,264.

Since even before the 2018 midterm elections, political operatives have said Texas has shown a steady slide towards becoming a blue state. Mr Trump has dismissed such talk.

But Wednesday marked his 16th visit to the state since he took office, and his 10th in the last two years. In 2019, the only states he visited more were ones where he often spends weekends and holidays at his resorts: Florida and New Jersey.

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