During Thursday night’s New Hampshire presidential debate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed Vice President Joe Biden once supported the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. There’s just one problem: Biden has never publicly supported the project.
Clinton’s primary opponent in this year’s election — Sen. Bernie Sanders — has flayed her in the past for supporting the oil pipeline.
Even so, Biden has never copped to supporting the pipeline, which President Barack Obama officially nixed in November after several years of review. For the last few years, Biden has hinted he’s opposed to the U.S.-Canadian joined pipeline.
In 2013, for example, Biden told an environmentalist at a fish fry, hosted by South Carolina Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn, he was against the pipeline.
“‘Sir, do you support rejecting the Keystone pipeline?'” South Carolina resident Elaine Cooper asked Biden, according to a Buzzfeed report. “And he responded, ‘Yes, I do support rejecting the Keystone pipeline, but I’m in the minority.’ And he smiled back at me.”
When asked about Biden’s comments, an unnamed official with the vice president’s office told The Washington Post his views on the pipeline are the same as they have always been: Biden was inclined to oppose it, but he wants to wait until the environmental review is completed before rendering a decision.
Environmentalists used Biden’s nominal opposition to the pipeline, as well as Secretary of State John Kerry’s outward opposition to it, as a cudgel against Obama in 2013, during which time Obama was still considering the issue.
In an ad on Politico’s homepage, activists show an image of an oil spill with Kerry and Biden holding hands.
“Psst … You should oppose Keystone XL too,” the ad read, according to The Washington Post. “Tell President Obama and Secretary Kerry: Joe Biden is Right.”
“Clinton’s record on the pipeline is more mixed, at times she was “inclined to support” it while later, during the ramp-up to her campaign for the White House, she came out against the project.
“So as I say, we’ve not yet signed off on it. But we are inclined to do so, and we are for several reasons — going back to one of your original questions — we’re either going to be dependent on dirty oil from the Gulf or dirty oil from Canada,” Clinton said in 2010 while speaking at a California public forum.
The Democratic candidate eventually landed on her current Keystone XL pipeline position during the presidential campaign. She now opposes it.
“You know, we know that if you are learning, you’re going to change your position,” Clinton said in response to former Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley during an October debate. “I never took a position on Keystone until I took a position on Keystone,” she added.
In another attempt during Thursday night’s debate to burnish her progressive credentials, Clinton said New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen once supported the Trans Pacific trade pact which Sanders has also used against her.
Afterword, Clinton rhetorically asked: “Who’s left in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party?”
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