Kathy Barnette lashes out at GOP rivals at private event as hopeful spotlight on Pennsylvania Senate rises

The comments came at an event in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, with Barnette and Republican governor candidate Doug Mastriano. Members of the media were not allowed to attend the event, but a participant in the event offered CNN a recording. This wasn’t the first time either candidate had banned journalists from events — both have consistently dodged reporters in the final days of their campaigns.
In her speech Saturday, Barnette referred to her two top opponents — celebrity surgeon Mehmet Oz and former hedge fund manager Dave McCormick — as fake conservatives.

“You’ve got Mehmet Oz, who has never used his public platform to push anything from our America First agenda. He never did. And now we’re being told he’s a MAGA conservative. Never,” she said, before attacking McCormick over ties to China the hedge fund he previously ran. “You can’t be in bed with China financially if you’re not also in bed with China ideologically. … And yet they tell us they are conservative. Pay attention.”

Depicting his work in China on Friday as “negotiating against” the country, McCormick added that “no one has the credentials and the toughness to set foot in China like I do.”

Barnette also used part of her speech to comment on how her opponents and their super PACs have portrayed the rising candidate. A CNN fact-check of an anti-Barnette ad by the American Leadership Action, a pro-Oz super PAC, found that it “wildly distorts the candidate’s past comments and views” by tying her to the Black Lives Matter movement and beliefs about systemic racism in the police force.
“The swamp isn’t just Democrats. I don’t know if you know that,” Barnette said in her speech, referring to the “drain the swamp” message popularized during former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, which has supported oz. “You can tell by what they do to me. Everything I said about myself, I didn’t exaggerate, I didn’t embellish it. I crawled out from under a rock yesterday.”

She added: “Look at that video they did, right? I’ve never supported Black Lives Matter. I’ve never said our country was systemically racist. In fact, I’ve always said the opposite, I’ve always said my story just shows you how far we’ve come as a nation.”

Trump’s endorsement of Oz has sparked backlash from conservative activists in Pennsylvania, some of whom have drawn to Barnette over the former president’s decision.

Trump said in a statement Thursday that Barnette was not a viable candidate for the election.

“Kathy Barnette will never win the general election against the radical left Democrats,” he said.

Barnette also got into a discussion on Saturday focusing on her previous tweets. A CNN report found that her tweets and past appearances contain anti-Muslim and anti-gay statements and push the false conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama is a Muslim. He is a Christian.

“Nobody is talking about my old tweets,” she said. “They have to go back almost 10 years to… not find a complete thought or sentence and say this is who she is.”

Barnette also attacked Fox host Sean Hannity, who had Oz on his show, asking him about some of her previous tweets. She told the audience that Hannity is “doing exactly what he and others have said about the left, sowing disinformation to suppress our vote, to steal an election. That’s exactly what they’re doing.”

Polls show Barnette rises sharply in Republican Senate primaries. A Fox poll released this week had all three candidates — Oz, McCormick and Barnette — in a virtual tie, causing consternation and concern among Republicans who believe Barnette could be a wildcard in November.

Barnette objected to that assumption on Saturday, arguing that the Republican Party often makes mistakes when choosing nominees.

“I believe the Republican Party has the best story. … We continue to elect people who are bad at telling our story. We do,” she said. “We pick the same old, same old people over and over, thinking we’re going to get a different result.”

About the criticism of her, she added: “Their problem with me is that I didn’t ask for permission. I didn’t ask for permission. I just walked through the front door.”

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