Former Vice President Joe Biden and his campaign are looking to clarify Biden’s comments saying he would have the country “transition from the oil industry” when asked by President Donald Trump if he would “close down the oil industry” during the final presidential debate Thursday night.
“It has to be replaced by renewable energy over time, over time. And I’d stop giving to the oil industry. I’d stop giving them federal subsidies,” Biden said during the debate.
“Basically what he is saying is he is going to destroy the oil industry,” Trump shot back. “Will you remember that Texas? Pennsylvania? Oklahoma? Ohio?”
Suggesting a transition away from oil use is not new for Biden, who calls for net-zero emissions by the year 2050 in his climate policy, achieved by shifting away from fossil fuels but not completely banning them. Instead, Biden’s policy would focus on developing carbon capture technology to reduce pollution and carbon outputs.
Still, the Trump campaign immediately pounced on the comments, hoping to capitalize with voters in key energy and battleground states, arguing Biden would “kill millions of jobs and cripple our economy.”
“Joe Biden, once again, accidentally [told] the truth tonight. He is an opponent, an enemy of the fossil fuel industries and the millions and millions of Americans who work in those industries,” Trump Communications Director Tim Murtaugh told reporters Thursday.
“And tonight, they heard that Joe Biden is coming for their jobs,” he added.
The Trump Campaign had already cut a new 30-second ad using Biden’s comment by Friday afternoon.
Biden also faced questions about the remarks and the message it could send to workers concerned about their jobs following the debate.
“We’re not getting rid of fossil fuels. We’re getting rid of the subsidies of fossil fuels, but we’re not getting rid of fossil fuels for a long time,” Biden told reporters as he boarded his plane back to Delaware Thursday.
“They’re not going to lose their jobs, and besides, they’re gonna– there’s a lot more jobs that are going to be created in other alternatives,” he added.
Throughout the campaign and during the debate, Trump also argued the former vice president is in favor of banning fracking — a key industry in battleground states like Pennsylvania.
Biden’s policy does not call for a sweeping ban but rather a ban on new fracking on federal land, something he came under fire for during the Democratic primary from candidates like Sen. Bernie Sanders, who criticized the policy for not being bold enough in addressing the growing climate issue. Biden’s policy would also end subsidies for fossil fuels.
Landing in Georgia Friday, Biden’s running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, once again clarified the former vice president’s position.
“Let’s be really clear about this. Joe Biden is not going to ban fracking. He is going to deal with oil subsidies,” Harris said when asked about her message to energy workers who are concerned following the debate.
“The president likes to put everything out of context, but let’s be clear: what Joe was talking about was banning subsidies but he will not ban fracking in America.”
ABC News’ Justin Gomez contributed reporting.