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Pennsylvania Senate GOP candidate Kathy Barnette on Sunday addressed past tweets on Islam, which have called her viability in the general election into question, while stressing “Democrats have their own issues” regarding a candidate who held a Black jogger at gunpoint in his neighborhood years ago.
“People ask me all the time. Are you afraid to run against Fetterman? And my response is generally, as long as I’m not running while Black,” Barnette said in an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.” “And many of your listeners will know that he is – not only accused, but he did – held a Black man up with a shotgun. So, Democrats have their own issues.”
The comment was an apparent reference to Pennsylvania Senate Democrat candidate John Fetterman, who as a mayor in 2013, used a gun to stop a Black jogger after hearing gunshots in his neighborhood. Police found no weapon, and anticipating it coming up during the Senate race, Fetterman addressed the incident in campaign video released last year, saying he acted quickly only to stop any potential tragedy.
But in order to take on Fetterman in the general election, Barnette must survive Tuesday’s GOP primary. She has surged in recent weeks, drawing swift backlash from her better-funded Republican opponents.
“We spent less than $2 million and they’re mad. They’re mad because I didn’t ask permission to be in this space,” Barnette said. “I just walked in because this is my country, and our country’s in trouble. And I don’t believe we have any more room to elect warm bodies with an R next to their names and say, ‘Hey, check, Republicans win.’ We don’t win. It’s not working out for us.”
Former President Trump, who endorsed GOP candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz in the Pennsylvania Senate race, has cast doubt on Barnette’s viability in the general election, saying she isn’t strong enough to take on the “radical left” and “has many things in her past which have not been properly explained or vetted.”
Oz, who previously noted the Barnette lost by 20 points when she ran for Congress 18 months ago, doubled down Sunday, saying Barnette should be disqualified over a tweet from 2015 in which she stated “pedophilia” was a fundamental tenet of the Islamic religion. Oz himself is Muslim.
Fox News host Shannon Bream asked Barnette directly about more of her past tweets Sunday. In 2014, Barnette tweeted, “If you love freedom, Islam must NOT be allowed to thrive under ANY condition.” She tweeted again in 2016 that, “Obama is a MUSLIM doing Muslim like THINGS!”
Barnette told “Fox News Sunday” that she wrote those tweets at a time when the Obama administration “was bringing in a lot of Syrian refugees,” despite former FBI director James Comey testifying before Congress that they would not be able to properly vet everyone entering the country from that region. At the time, she said she was host of a show called “Truth Exchange” and was “looking at the Pulse nightclub shooting, watching people take vehicles, weaponize them and run people down in the street” and well as the San Bernardino shooting “was leaning into helping the public have those conservations.”
“I can’t provide a lot of context because again, that’s almost 10 years ago. That’s how far they have to go back and try to find anything on me,” Barnette told Bream. “Though I can’t provide a lot of context to that because it’s a half thought and everything is not there for me to be able to speak to it, what I can say is that I love my country and I have always loved my country, and I have always been willing not to blink in the face of difficult discussions.”
Since launching her campaign 13 months ago, Barnette said she first traveled about 900 miles a week and upped that to about 1,500 miles a week in recent months to visit Pennsylvanians. During her travels, the candidate argued that people are not focused on her past tweets, but instead on discussions about illegal immigration, inflation and baby formula shortages.
“We have some very real issues and that is the reason why I’m surging and doing so well, it’s because throughout this entire time I’ve kept the main thing the main thing and that’s Pennsylvanians,” she said.
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