• August 8, 2020

Trump in Odessa - Odessa American: Local News

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  • President Brings Re-Election Fundraiser to West Texas

    President Donald Trump speaks during an event Friday in Washington. Trump is scheduled to be in Odessa this week. A private fundraising event is expected to be held at the Odessa Marriott Hotel & Conference Center as well as a visit to an undisclosed drilling site.

Posted: Sunday, July 26, 2020 5:00 am

Giving President Trump a close-up view of the energy industry and persuading him of its national and worldwide significance will be the main goal of the hosts of his private fundraising event Wednesday.

The event is expected to be a luncheon held at the Odessa Marriott Hotel & Conference Center downtown at 305 E. Fifth St.

But the agenda will be broader than that with coping with the COVID-19 pandemic and making a presidential visit to an undisclosed drilling site also on tap.

An organizer who has worked on the event for months, oilman Kirk Edwards, said it will show the importance of independent oil and gas producers as compared to the major oil companies.

Crediting Saulsbury Industries founder Dick Saulsbury and Executive Vice President Bubba Saulsbury, Edwards said, “It’s extremely important for the president to come out here and see on the ground what’s happening in West Texas, the people of our industry who live it on a day to day basis in the oil and gas and service businesses.

“There is a lot of pride associated with his coming here because it is a once in a lifetime event for most everybody in this town.”

Edwards said the populace is “proud of President Trump for what he has done, helping with OPEC when the Saudis were flooding all the oil into the U.S.

“We want to tell him the mission is not over because we have a lot of problems right now and we want to educate him and his administration on what those are,” he said. “We’re headed in the right direction, but there is still more work ahead of us.”

UTPB History Professor Derek Catsam said the trip will be valuable to Trump not only to raise money for his re-election campaign against presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden but also to draw distinctions between Biden and him. “It will be a way for the president explicitly and implicitly to point up their differences on energy policy and particularly his connections to oil and gas,” Catsam said.

“He will say, ‘I’m one of you,’ firing up any support that may have slackened, and say, ‘I’m for drilling and getting new oil and he is for the Green New Deal.’ Around here, that means something.”

Noting the prices of participation are $2,500 for lunch, $50,000 for a couple’s photo with Trump and $100,000 to take part in a roundtable discussion with him, Catsam said, “He will run through his greatest hits and get off some snappy insults.

“Will it be historically momentous? Not unless he introduces a policy or something happens here. But for a kid who sees him, yes.”

Planning to attend the fundraiser, 11th District Republican congressional nominee August Pfluger of San Angelo said it “signals the president’s commitment to our oil and gas industry, which is extremely important to the economy and national security.”

Endorsed by Trump in the March 3 primary that he won without a runoff over nine opponents, Pfluger said the visit “will signal to the rest of the country how important the industry is.

“Just over the past few years, we’ve gotten to the point where we are the No. 1 exporter of oil and gas in the entire world,” he said. “If the Permian Basin were a country, we’d be No. 3 on OPEC’s list. We’re an instrument of power because we are not beholden to the Middle East and we can do things without fear of reprisal like the president’s drone strike on (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen.) Qassim Suleimani last Dec. 27.

“I’m looking forward to thanking him for his endorsement,” the former Air Force fighter pilot said. “This is an extremely challenging time and he is doing everything he possibly can to fight against the pandemic that wasn’t started in this country. That was the responsibility of the Chinese government and we will find out more of those facts during the coming weeks.

“He is trying to keep the country safe and keep the economy open against a movement that is mischaracterizing his leadership.”

Ector County Democratic Chairman Hannah Horick said it “is in poor taste for Trump to come and charge people $2,500 to have lunch with him and $100,000 to sit at a table with him when so many people in Texas and our community are hurting because of the coronavirus and the challenges of the economy.

“I hope the president and the folks traveling with him and the people hosting him have the public health and safety in mind during this trip,” Horick said. “The president doesn’t have a great track record with mask-wearing and setting an example of good public health practices. It would be valuable if he came in and set a good example of how to keep people safe when you have to be in a group.”

Asked if she thought Biden would win Nov. 3, she said, “The polls have us feeling optimistic, but we are certainly not taking anything for granted.

“We’ll continue to put in the work because you never want to believe an election will happen without a whole lot of work. Even though this county is represented mostly by Republicans, Odessa is not a one-party city. There are folks here and across the state for Biden.”

Ector County Republican Chairman Tisha Crow said Bubba Saulsbury was the prime mover in securing the event largely because he is a close friend of Donald Trump Jr. and is the No. 3 Republican “bundler,” or key fundraiser, in the nation.

Adding that she didn’t know how much the younger Saulsbury had raised, Crow said, “Bubba has been on the phone either with the White House or someone in the Trump family multiple times each week.

“He and Junior have gotten close. Vice President Pence was here in April 2019 for a private fundraiser in a draped hangar by the Commemorative Air Force and he was amazed to see all those rigs and pumpjacks.

“I anticipate we’ll hear the president talk about the coronavirus ... He’ll hear that oil and gas is not a simple business. It’s intricate, risky and speculative and most people from other parts of the country don’t understand everything that can go wrong and what it means to have a well go dry.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Midland, said through a Washington spokeswoman that Trump’s visit “affirms that his administration understands how critical the Permian Basin is to fueling a strong American economy.

“In the face of two countries whose actions attempted to drown out the Permian, I am fully supportive of the leadership and swift action he has taken to defend our region in the global market, increase our nation’s energy independence and unleash American energy dominance,” Conaway said.

“President Trump is always welcome in West Texas. His visit will be encouraging to our community and send a strong signal to nefarious foreign actors.”

State Rep. Brooks Landgraf, R-Odessa, said it “is obviously a huge event to have a sitting president visit Odessa and the Permian Basin.

“There is a reason for our entire community to be excited,” Landgraf said. “There are also some practical benefits to the president’s visit. He gets to see roads and so many aspects of life and work here. Any time we can get leaders in positions like his to witness the Basin firsthand, it’s a benefit to all of us.

“A number of people have worked diligently for quite some time to make this event a reality. Bubba Saulsbury, Kirk Edwards and Ector County Republican Women’s Club President Sherry Hurt deserve a great deal of credit and I express my gratitude to them.”