Pennsylvania Senate candidate Kathy Barnette said the ‘knives are coming out’ against her as she’s shot up in the polls after former President Trump called her past into question.
As underdog Barnette has shot up in popularity to just behind Trump-endorsed Dr. Mehmet Oz and ahead of hedge fund executive David McCormick by some polls, members of the media began to ask ‘Who is Kathy Barnette?’ as a Washington Examiner piece published Thursday was entitled.
Trump, not one for losing, launched an attack on Barnette.
‘Kathy Barnette will never be able to win the General Election against the Radical Left Democrats,’ Trump said in a Thursday afternoon statement.
‘She has many things in her past which have not been properly explained or vetted, 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.’
All but one of Trump’s endorsements have won their primary so far– Nebraska GOP Gov. candidate Charles Herbster lost after he faced groping allegations from eight women.
During Trump’s rally in Greensburg, Pennsylvania on Friday he bragged about his winning streak in midterms.
‘Every single candidate that I endorsed won their primaries on Tuesday,’ Trump said last Friday, referring to the Ohio and Indiana primary elections. ‘We have a total record of 55 and 0.’
But Barnette brushed off the attack during a campaign stop in Bucks County, and said she actually took Trump’s statement as a compliment.
‘We know that President Trump did not mince words,’ she told reporters Thursday, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. ‘I think that letter was favorable. And I look forward to working with the president.’
The far-right Barnette would typically be a dream candidate for Donald Trump – she fought hard against the 2020 election results (in which she also lost to Rep. Madeline Dean in a heavily blue Philadelphia district). The conservative commentator says she organized a bus to Washington, D.C. for the ‘Save America’ rally which preceded the Capitol riot on Jan. 6.
But as news outlets began to poke around her past, Barnette steeled herself against any inquiries for proof that she is who she says she is.
That changed after Trump’s statement. Barnette did a 25-minute tell-all interview with conservative radio host Chris Stegall where she claimed she’d been an ‘open book’ but the media had not done its due diligence.
‘Kathy Barnette will never be able to win the General Election against the Radical Left Democrats,’ Trump said in a Thursday afternoon statement
Trump rallied for Dr. Mehmet Oz in Greensburg last Friday
‘I’ve been running this race for 13 months and all of a sudden everybody’s like “who is she?”‘
‘I’ve been knocking on the doors of main stream media saying l”ook at me, talk to me.” No one wanted to talk about me. They only wanted to talk about the two rich guys who were beating up on each other,’ Barnette griped.
While her opponents have gone to war with each other, Barnette has used her compelling personal story to connect with voters on the ground – she often tells of how she grew up on a pig farm in Alabama, before becoming a veteran, then working at two financial firms and as an adjunct professor of corporate finance, and authoring the book, ‘Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain: Being Black and Conservative in America.’
While the Washington Examiner claimed that Barnette filed to answer simple questions, such as the name of the college where she taught classes and what financial firms she worked at, the Washington Free Beacon claimed that her campaign manager abruptly ended a conversation where they asked for her DD214, a standard document service members are issued once they leave the military.
Sean Parnell, who previously won Trump’s endorsement for the GOP Senate race but dropped out due to domestic abuse allegations by his ex-wife, questioned why Barnette had not provided any public record of her DD214.
‘I see a ton of blue checks & others fawning over [Barnette] but the fact is, other than what she’s told you, you don’t really know much. How long did she serve? Have you seen her DD214? What was her discharge status? Where did she graduate from college?’ Parnell wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
Barnette said that she did have a DD214 but that ‘no one walks around with their military records in their back pocket.’ She said she spent 10 years in the service, including four in the National Guard and three in the Army Reserves, from 1990 to 2000.
She said that she taught at Judson University in Illinois, the two financial firms she worked at were A.G. Edwards and Sons and Bank of America Capital Asset Managment and she graduated from Troy University.
‘It goes to show that the swamp is not just occupied by Democrats,’ she said, referring to the line of questioning by Republicans and right-leaning news outlets.
In the waning days before Tuesday’s primary election, Barnette curiously shot up in popularity, bypassing McCormick and threatening the frontrunner status of Oz by some polls.
She made national headlines when she went after Oz on abortion during a debate earlier this month, revealing that she was the product of rape when her mother was just 11 years old and her father 21.
Arguing for a ban a total ban on abortions, Barnette said that the story of how she came to be showed her the ‘sanctity of life … regardless of conception.’
Seemingly caught off guard by the 50-year-old black Philadelphia woman’s rise in popularity, Trump did not attack Barnette in his rally for Oz last week, though he characterized McCormick as soft on China and a ‘RINO.’
Barnette’s spending is mere pocket change compared to that of Oz and McCormick – the pair have spent $12.4 million and $11.4 million on television commercials respectively, mostly attacking each other, Barnette has spent $137,000 on TV, according to Politico.
Trump’s attacks come one day after Fox News host Sean Hannity said that remarks she’d made in the past were troubling.
‘But the problem is,’ he explained, ‘we’re now looking at what is a must-hold Republican Senate seat if the Republicans ever want to take the majority in the U.S. Senate.’
Barnette’s checkered past includes many tweets where she called Obama a ‘Muslim,’ and another tweet where she announced ‘Just confronted a Muslim today.’
In other tweets flagged by Jacob Rubashkin of Inside Elections, Barnette in 2017 called for the U.S. to ban Islam, and said that pedophilia was a ‘cornerstone’ of the religion.
Barnette has posted a photo of herself in uniform and claimed she spent 10 years in the military, but has at times used the wrong terminology. She has said at some points said that she spent 10 years in the U.S. Army Reserves, but her website claims she was in the ‘Armed Forces Reserves,’ a branch of service that does not appear to exist.
On his podcast this week, Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist, called Barnette ‘pure MAGA– in fact, Kathy Barnette may be ultra-MAGA.’
‘Stunning polling coming out last night. … Oz and McCormick combined, I think, have spent $24 million, combined. $24 million! … And she’s basically in a dead heat,’ Bannon said on his ‘War Room’ podcast Monday.