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Trump slams polls, says he rescued oil industry


Lesley Clark, E&E News reporter

President Trump yesterday dismissed polling that shows his campaign in trouble in Texas, telling reporters he “saved the oil industry” and won’t lose the state.Trump’s boast came as a number of polls show a tight race in the state amid growing unease over Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. He blasted “phony polls” and said his own numbers show that he’s “many points up.”

Dallas Morning News/University of Texas, Tyler poll released Sunday found former Vice President Joe Biden with a lead of 5 percentage points over Trump in the state, with 46% support to Trump’s 41%. It found 14% of voters were undecided or named someone else.

The poll, conducted June 29 through July 7, had a margin of error of 2.24 percentage points.

It follows an April survey that found Biden and Trump tied at 43%. The new poll finds Trump losing support chiefly among independents. A majority of all voters surveyed disapproved of his handling of the coronavirus, as the state over the weekend set records for the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19.

Trump said he saw a poll that showed him 1 point over Biden in Texas, but he doesn’t believe it, insisting his administration’s response to the oil glut caused by the pandemic would keep his campaign afloat, despite an oil price collapse that spurred layoffs of thousands of energy workers and gutted oil businesses across the Lone Star State.

“I saved the oil industry,” he told reporters after a roundtable discussion on law enforcement at the White House. “I created it, we became No. 1, we have millions of jobs. And we saved it so Texas is not going to have to let go of millions and millions of people.”

Analysts have said that Trump deserves credit for helping in April to broker a deal between Russia and Saudi Arabia to cut oil production, so that prices did not continue to bottom out. The administration also worked with the Federal Reserve to see that oil and gas companies would be eligible for a loan program run by the central bank.

It failed to convince Congress to give it $3 billion to buy enough oil to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, but the Department of Energy in May said it would purchase up to 1 million barrels of sweet crude oil for storage as part of its effort to aid oil and gas firms (Energywire, April 13).

Still, oil and gas bankruptcies spiked from April to June, reaching their highest level in a quarter since the 2016 oil crash, according to a report on Friday. In the second quarter, the majority of oil and gas bankruptcies were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston, a major hub for U.S. oil headquarters, according to the report.

Trump noted that oil prices are trading at about $40 a barrel — though that’s down from about $60 a barrel at the start of the year — and “we have the biggest energy in the world.”

He said pollsters suggested that Texas was too close to call in 2016 but that he won the state in a “blowout.” Trump won Texas by 9 points in 2016, and few polls at the time suggested the race was close.

Still, Trump has repeatedly suggested, without offering evidence, that polls that do not favor him are “suppression polls” conducted to convince his supporters to stay home.

“To think that after saving the oil and gas business and millions and millions of jobs, I’m leading Texas by 1 point? I don’t think so,” Trump said.

Trump’s reply came as reporters asked him at the White House whether he expects to be able to hold the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Fla., next month, given the state’s spike in coronavirus cases. The state on Sunday reported a record 15,300 new cases, the most of any state in a single day.

“It built up a little bit, but we’re going to do something that will be great,” Trump said.

Trump held a fundraiser in Texas in June, raising more than $10 million for his reelection campaign at the Dallas home of Kelcy Warren, CEO of the pipeline giant Energy Transfer Partners. It was his first campaign stop since the pandemic in March put an end to most in-person events, leaving him at the White House except for official White House visits.

Democrats have long pointed to Texas’ changing demographics and emerging Latino majority to argue that the state could turn blue, and some have encouraged Biden to invest more heavily in the state.

Polls last month showed Biden closing the gap with Trump in Texas, and Biden told Texas Democrats he believed the state could be won.

Trump’s remarks came on the heels of a two-day visit Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette paid to Texas last week, visiting oil and gas producers in Houston and touring Valero Energy Corp. in San Antonio.

Brouillette, who has held events in several battleground states in recent weeks, was optimistic after meeting with independent oil producers in Houston on Friday, telling reporters that demand is coming back and that U.S. Energy Information Administration figures suggest a “very strong recovery at the end of this year.”

The department has posted a similar bullish note on its website, with Brouillette writing: “Our oil and gas industry may be down, but it is never out of the fight. DOE and the Trump Administration plan to unleash American energy dominance in Texas, which will in turn help power the post-COVID economic comeback for the entire nation.”



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