May 13, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Kathy Barnette tweets targeted Muslims, LGBTQ people and Obama

 Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidate Kathy Barnette listens to speakers.
Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidate Kathy Barnette. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Kathy Barnette, a Republican Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, has a social media history packed with anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ sentiments, as well as conspiracy theories about former President Obama.

Why it matters: Barnette's social media posts have drawn scrutiny because she has garnered a lot of buzz in the closely watched Pennsylvania race, surprising — and frightening — many influential Republicans in Washington.

Driving the news: Former President Donald Trump warned Republicans Thursday that Barnette's history will preclude her from winning a general election in Pennsylvania. Trump has endorsed celebrity TV doctor Mehmet Oz in the race.

  • Trump said there are many things that have "not been properly explained or vetted" about her past. But if they're explained, she will have a "bright future" in the Republican party.
  • Trump ally Steve Bannon told Axios that Barnette has resonated among the Republican base by not conceding her own 2020 House race loss.
  • "Pennsylvania is MAGA v. ULTRA MAGA," Bannon said.

Barnette told NBC News that Trump's comments are a positive step forward and she is eager to work with the GOP.

  • "[W]e know that President Trump does not mince words," she said. "He’s a very straight shooter. And I look forward to working with the president.”
  • "I look forward to working with them to win a very important seat. Not just in Pennsylvania, but for our nation," she said.

Flashback: In tweets dating back to 2013, Barnette has attacked Islam and Muslims, and shared conspiracy theories that Obama was Muslim.

  • Several of Barnette's tweets originated on Facebook. Many of the tweets contain links to now-deleted Facebook posts and videos.
  • In one of the tweets, Barnette said "pedophilia is a cornerstone of Islam."
  • Yes, but: Barnette told NBC News, "I don't think that's me. I would never have said that. Okay, I would have never said that, because I don't believe that.”
Muslims and Islam

Barnette's tweets about Islam include her saying that "moderate Muslim(s)" are equal to "radical Muslim(s)."

Of note: Barnette specifically attacked Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) because of her faith in a 2019 tweet.

Conspiracy theories about Obama

Barnette's tweets on Obama centered around the false claim that Obama, a Christian, is Muslim. Trump spent years making false claims about Obama's faith and pushing "birther" conspiracies too.

Anti-LGBTQ statements

Barnette has also tweeted out anti-LGBTQ statements.

Worth noting: Barnette talked derogatorily about Muslims, Islam and Obama in speeches as well, CNN reports.

Go deeper: What to know about controversial GOP Pennsylvania Senate candidate Kathy Barnette

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