By Andrew Kaczynski and Em Steck, CNN
Surging Pennsylvania GOP Senate candidate Kathy Barnette has a history of anti-Muslim and anti-gay statements. In many tweets, Barnette also spread the false conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama is a Muslim.
In one speech uploaded to YouTube in 2015, Barnette forcefully argued it was OK to discriminate against Muslims and compared rejecting Islam to “… rejecting Hitler’s or Stalin’s worldviews.” In comments on her radio show, she said accepting homosexuality would lead to the accepting of incest and pedophilia. One post she wrote called a transgender person “deformed” and “demonic.”
Barnette surged in recent polls in the upcoming Pennsylvania Republican US Senate primary, putting her in a dead heat between Donald Trump-endorsed former TV star Mehmet Oz and former hedge fund manager David McCormick. The Pennsylvania Senate seat is one of the one of the best pickup opportunities for Democrats this November, and Barnette’s sudden, rapid rise is causing worry among Trump allies.
Barnette has had a quick and unpredicted rise in the polls ahead of next Tuesday’s primary. She is best known as an Army Reserves veteran and conservative political commentator who regularly appeared on Fox, and previously she was the host of a Christian radio show called “Truth Exchange,” which also had a website where she sometimes blogged. She previously ran for Congress in 2020 in Pennsylvania’s 4th Congressional District but lost to Democratic Rep. Madeleine Dean.
Barnette’s campaign did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
In posts, and comments on her radio show, Barnette frequently condemned being gay and transgender.
“Two men sleeping together, two men holding hands, two men caressing, that is not normal,” she said on her radio show in July 2015, when a Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for same-sex marriage.
On the same show, Barnette argued accepting same-sex marriage would lead to a “slippery slope” of accepting incest and pedophilia, in an episode that was deleted from her SoundCloud page after CNN’s KFile reached out to the Barnette campaign for comment.
“If love is the litmus test, who are we to say, well, your love is legitimate love, same-sex couples, but your love, father and daughter, is not legitimate. Or your love, one man and three women, is not legitimate, or one older man and a 12-year-old child. If love is the litmus test, it becomes a very slippery slope. And that is where we, we find ourselves today.”
In one 2015 post, Barnette attacked the transgender former reality star and Olympic champion Caitlyn Jenner as “deformed” and “demonic,” while attacking what she called a “barrage to normalize sexual perversion.” In comments in the same post, Barnette warned of a “take-over” occurring by the “Homosexual agenda.”
On another show from the same time, Barnette hosted “two ex-gays” to show “the real story behind all those happy ‘gay’ photos we see, & God’s Redemptive story in both of their lives.” One conversation featured the president of “Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX).” In one post from 2010, Barnette wrote the “homosexual AGENDA” seeks “domination.” In a post in 2013, Barnette said America couldn’t coexist with the “Homosexual agenda.”
“The aggressive homosexual agenda is coming soon to a kitchen table near you,” she wrote.
In tweets and posts, Barnette frequently targeted Islam and Muslims. In one post, on her website, Barnette shared an obviously doctored image of a Muslim man holding up a sign in front of the rubble of the World Trade Center that said, “Vote Democrat! We need your help to kill you.”
Speaking in December 2015, in a speech posted online, Barnette argued it was acceptable to discriminate against Muslims and Islam, comparing it to rejecting the worldviews of Stalin and Hitler, leaders who systematically discriminated against and ordered the killing of millions of people — including Jews, people with disabilities, Slavs and gay men.
“You are not a racist if you reject Islam, or if you reject Muslims, because they are not a race of people. They are a particular view. They are people that have a particular view of the world, and we have a right to discriminate against worldviews,” she said. “We discriminated against Hitler’s Nazi Germany view of the world, right? That was a worldview. That’s how he saw the world around him. And we discriminated against it. We rejected it. We rejected Stalin’s view … of the world, right? Because that’s a particular view of the world that we don’t agree with.”
“We have the right to discriminate against worldviews because all views are not morally equal,” she added. “All views are not equal. So we have the right to reject it. And let me just say offhand, I reject how Muslims see the world.”
In 2019, Barnette attacked Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan for comments she made about Trump, tweeting she was a “MUSLIM” in all capital letters.
“Aren’t you all so glad you voted in the first ‘openly’ Palestinian Muslim? (Sarcasm for ya’ll who don’t get sarcasm),” wrote Barnette.
Spread conspiracy theories Obama was a Muslim
On her radio show and in speeches, Barnette frequently called Obama by his full name, Barack Hussein Obama, apparently to imply he was Muslim.
“We have a president in office right now, Barack Hussein Obama,” she said in 2015 in a speech. “I try to mention his name as much as possible. Thinking that at some point a light bulb is going to go off in someone’s head.”
“Don’t we get it? Obama is a Muslim!” read one tweet in January 2016.
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