Barnette Last Minute Surge, Trump Says She’s Not Vetted

PA Headlines 5/13/22

HARRISBURG – Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting… Kathy Barnette’s late surge has turned the nationally-watched race into a mad scramble, with former President Donald Trump warning Republicans against nominating her and opponents only now doing basic background research in an attempt to stop her as the clock ticks closer to Tuesday’s primary.  Such vetting, usually strategically unspooled over the course of a lengthy campaign, rolled out in frenetic bursts at a range of disparate targets Thursday.  The rush to find anything to puncture Barnette’s story came as she threatened to overtake long-time GOP front-runners Mehmet Oz and David McCormick, who have spent tens of millions of dollars on the campaign but failed to pull away.

The haphazard moment was embodied by a Trump statement that urged Republicans to support his endorsed candidate, Oz, but also predicted a bright future for Barnette, a conservative commentator and a prominent election denier with a trail of incendiary comments, including some targeting gay and transgender people and Muslims.  “Kathy Barnette will never be able to win the General Election against the Radical Left Democrats,” Trump said.  “She has many things in her past which have not been properly explained or vetted,” he added, “but if she is able to do so, she will have a wonderful future in the Republican Party — and I will be behind her all the way.”

Barnette, 50, brushed off the attacks during a campaign stop Thursday night at the Southampton Fire Department in Bucks County.  “We know that President Trump did not mince words,” she told reporters after the event, though media was largely barred while it took place. “I think that letter was favorable. And I look forward to working with the president.”  She agreed with a suggestion that being targeted was confirmation of her rise.  “There’s a reason we have the words swamp creatures,” she had told the crowd earlier, according to a recording made by reporters who were briefly in the event but forced to leave. ”The long knives are coming out at this point and I had the best day of my life today.”

Barnette responded more extensively to the new scrutiny, and questions about her background, in a 25-minute interview with conservative radio host Chris Stigall. She accused her opponents, and some conservative media figures, of twisting her past statements to derail her.  She explained her work history, where she went to college, when she moved to Pennsylvania (2014, according to a GOP questionnaire she once filled out), and her 10 years in the Army Reserves. She described her political fight now as “David and Goliath.”  Barnette’s campaign had spent less than $2 million as of April 27, according to public disclosures. That’s dwarfed by more than $35 million from McCormick and two super PACs funded by his wealthy allies, and more than $18 million by Oz and his supporters.  As rivals raised questions about her chances of winning a statewide election, Barnette noted that Oz and McCormick have already bloodied each other with brutal ad campaigns.


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