The sudden rise of conservative commentator and creator Kathy Barnette in polls has Donald Trump apparently fearful about his pick in Pennsylvania’s GOP Senate race, celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz.
Following the discharge of a Fox News poll that showed Barnette inside striking distance of Oz, Trump released an announcement slamming Barnette as too weak to face the Democrat in the overall election.
“Kathy Barnette won’t ever give you the option to win the General Election against the Radical Left Democrats,” Trump said Thursday in a news release from his political motion committee.
In the identical statement, Trump left the door open to supporting her if she wins, an effort to cover his bases in light of accelerating scrutiny concerning the waning power of his political endorsements.
“She has many things in her past which haven’t been properly explained or vetted, but when she is capable of achieve this, she is going to have a beautiful future within the Republican Party — and I will probably be behind her all the way in which,” he said.
Barnette, who wrote a book about being Black and conservative and who has never held public office, has a lengthy history of anti-Muslim and anti-gay statements, in response to CNN. She falsely accused former President Barack Obama of being a secret Muslim and has suggested banning Islam. She’s also dabbled in fraud conspiracies regarding the 2020 election.
The Fox poll from Tuesday showed Barnette with 19% of the vote — throughout the poll’s margin of error — just behind Oz at 22% and former hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick at 20%. It also had 18% of voters still undecided.
National Republicans are selecting to remain out of the fray for now. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is neutral in relation to the first. On Thursday, he downplayed concerns about Barnette’s viability as a general election candidate and projected confidence about winning the open seat regardless of who comes out on top.
“We’ll win Pennsylvania,” Scott told HuffPost.
But Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), the vice chair of the Senate GOP conference, defended Barnette by calling her “extraordinary.”
“Simply because you’re a political newcomer doesn’t mean we write you off,” Ernst said in an interview with CNN.
Trump on Thursday also announced a tele-rally for Oz just days after he traveled to the state to carry a MAGA rally for the previous “Dr. Oz Show” host — one other sign that the previous president believes Oz might need his last-minute help before Tuesday’s primary. On the live rally last Friday, Trump had trouble selling the group on Oz, who got booed on stage.
Barnette’s rise within the race’s home stretch is stunning considering the thousands and thousands Oz and McCormick have spent introducing themselves to voters and trashing one another in TV ads. They’ve each questioned the opposite’s conservative credentials, ties to China and spotty residency links to the state they need to represent in Congress.
Democrats have their very own primary headaches to contend with ahead of what’s shaping as much as be probably the most competitive races of the cycle. But they couldn’t help gloating slightly on Thursday concerning the situation that Republicans find themselves in.
“We’ve got a challenge this yr of course, but this primary they’re having ― it’s so negative, so rancorous, so divisive that I feel it’s going to harm their nominee,” Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) said.