Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Sunday that she isn’t concerned that Joe Biden’s opposition to a nationwide ban on fracking will hurt young voter turnout, arguing that they will support the Democratic presidential nominee because they are “realistic and pragmatic in their vote.”
“I believe that young people right now have a very disciplined, activist mindset, and they are not here with the intent of voting for their favorite person or voting for, you know, someone that they think is perfect as president,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” when asked about how Biden’s position will play with younger voters.
“I think young people are actually quite disciplined and quite realistic and pragmatic in their vote, and they want to vote for who they are going to lobby,” she said.
The answer from the New York Democrat signals that for many in the party’s rising progressive wing, the need to defeat President Donald Trump in November is of higher priority than focusing on differences they have with Biden’s more moderate position on some issues.
Biden has sought to clarify his position on fracking, a key issue that gained more attention during last week’s debate when the former vice president was pressed by Trump about his position on it.
Speaking to supporters in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, Biden said: “I’m not banning fracking in Pennsylvania or anywhere else. I’m going to protect Pennsylvanian jobs, period.”
During the final debate, Biden falsely claimed that he “never said I oppose fracking.” In two Democratic primary debates, Biden had made confusing remarks over fracking that his campaign had to clarify. In 2019, Biden said “we would make sure it’s eliminated” when asked about the future of coal and fracking; in 2020 he said he opposed “new fracking.”
Biden’s written plan, conversely, never included a full ban on fracking or even on new fracking. Rather, it proposes “banning new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters” – not ending all new fracking anywhere or ending all existing fracking on public lands and waters.
Ocasio-Cortez said Sunday that Biden’s proposal to eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels, as outlined in his plan, is “an important first step.”
Young people, she said, will want to vote for a candidate who “is at least going to be receptive to their advocacy, activism and protest” and that Biden would be much more open to hearing their positions than Trump.
The congresswoman stressed the importance of winning key states in the presidential election, including Pennsylvania, saying that efforts to move Biden more to the left on certain issues would occur after the election, should he win.
“I believe that we need to be focused on winning the White House, period. The fact of the matter is, there are many critical states that are on the line, whether it’s Florida, whether it’s Georgia, Pennsylvania,” she said. “Frankly, I think it would be a privilege and it would be a luxury for us to be talking about what we would lobby the next Democratic (president) and how we will push the next Democratic administration.”
CNN’s Sarah Mucha and Lauren Koenig contributed to this report.