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Pennsylvania's gas politics churn as Trump embraces industry Wednesday, 23 October 2019
EXTON, Pa. (AP) — For a second time in three months, President Donald Trump is headed to Pennsylvania to promote his support for the natural gas industry, making clear that he sees his pro-industry policies as a boost to his chances of winning the battleground state.

As some of his leading Democratic opponents are calling for a fracking ban, Trump has been eager to cut a contrast, touting his support for a sector he says brings economic benefits to rural pockets and jobs to construction union workers.

But pipeline politics might not be so clear-cut.

In the suburbs that might be key to his path to victory, Pennsylvania voters have shown a growing opposition to the drilling and massive pipelines required to move its product across the state. Candidates in state and local races are increasingly hardening their stances on the industry. National polling shows growing skepticism of fracking, the process used in extraction.

While the issue is unlikely to be the one that turns a race already dominated by Trump's strong personality, a looming impeachment fight and accusations of racism, Trump's eagerness to promote the industry underscores his tight focus on shoring up his base of rural voters, even at the risk of alienating others.

Coming to the Pittsburgh conference gives Trump the ability to pitch to an industry and a region — western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and West Virginia — that help make up "what some would call his base," said Dave Spigelmyer, the president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a trade group that is co-sponsoring the event.

"The president certainly recognizes what a critical role this country is playing in energy, and that this state and region are playing in energy," Spigelmyer said.

Several Democratic presidential candidates are taking their own political risks on the issue. Backed by...

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