The Trump campaign is gearing up for a 2020 general election which will likely pit them against former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, or Senator Elizabeth Warren as the Democratic presidential nominee.
As Biden looks like the most likely candidate, the Washington Examiner reports, the Trump campaign is eyeing a strategy to take him down in the key state of Pennsylvania.
How will he do it? By using a similar strategy in how he beat Hillary Clinton in the state in 2016, but this time with a secret weapon: the potential construction of the 120-mile PennEast pipeline.
According to the Washington Examiner, the pipeline is “designed to deliver gas from booming fracking fields in the north-east of Pennsylvania.”
But, as is often the case with the construction of these pipelines, environmental groups are campaigning against it.
“If the vegetation is stripped back it will turn the whole thing into a gully and all the silt will run down,” threatening to clog the creek and destroy its biodiversity,” an environmentalist cited in the report said.
The Trump campaign is reportedly strategizing how it can insert itself into the debate as it knows Biden will have to back the environmental group—subsequently pitting him against business groups and unions, the Washington Examiner reports.
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The activists may be focused on local concerns — the 87 waterways, 53 wetlands, and 33 parks they say are at risk of destruction — but the wrangling is a microcosm of the national debate over energy policy and one that Trump campaign officials believe they can use to their advantage.
It pits business groups and unions — who see a $1.6 billion windfall for the regional economy and the creation of an estimated 12,160 jobs — against environmental groups.
And therein lies a problem for a candidate like former Vice President Joe Biden, should he become the Democratic nominee. Opponents believe they can weaponize the issue of fracking and energy to separate him from his blue-collar, union allies after a series of promises to move against fracking.
The Washington Examiner reports Kelly Sadler, of the pro-Trump nonprofit America First Policies, said Biden’s pro-environment push would be seen as threatening to as many as 10 million jobs in the oil and gas industry.
“Joe Biden is taking an extremist position in saying he wants to ban fossil fuels and crack down on fracking, which has brought great prosperity to places like Pennsylvania. Not only that, fracking has led to stability in the world energy markets and we are now the number one exporter of natural gas.”
Here’s even more from the report:
Trump won the state narrowly in 2016, the first time a Republican had triumphed there since George H.W. Bush in 1988. Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral college votes will be another key battleground this time around.
Analysts say the Trump strategy is to return to the trade, energy, and immigration messages, which served him well four years ago, in an effort to improve turnout among an energetic base.