GOP Senate candidate defends falsely claiming Obama was Muslim because he was taking in refugees from Syria

During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Kathy Barnette was asked about several of the offensive tweets

<p>Kathy Barnette, a Republican Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, is being attacked by Republicans including former President Donald Trump and Fox News host Sean Hannity after she recently surged to a front runner position ahead of the state’s primary.</p>

Kathy Barnette, a Republican Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, is being attacked by Republicans including former President Donald Trump and Fox News host Sean Hannity after she recently surged to a front runner position ahead of the state’s primary.

Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Kathy Barnette was left scrambling on Sunday when a Fox News host asked her to explain Islamophobic tweets she authored during the Obama administration.

Ms Barnette, a former conservative talk show host who has admitted to being present at the rally which preceded the 6 January 2021 attack on the US Capitol, has gained significantly in polling since her performance at a GOP senate debate three weeks ago, with recent surveys showing her pulling within striking distance of ex-TV doctor Mehmet Oz and former private equity executive Dave McCormick.

But the possibility that Ms Barnette could knock off the two prior frontrunners has brought additional scrutiny of her past public statements.

During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, host Shannon Bream asked her about several of the offensive tweets, which Ms Barnette has claimed have been taken out of context by her critics.

Referring to a tweet Ms Barnette posted on 16 January 2016 claiming former president Barack Obama is a “Muslim doing Muslim-like things,” Ms Bream noted that Mr Obama is not a Muslim and has described himself as a practicing Christian, and asked Ms Barnette to provide “context” for the claim.

The Republican Senate hopeful began a meandering response in which she first claimed the tweet was inspired by the Obama administration “bringing in a lot of Syrian refugees at that time” and said she was concerned about several events that would not take place until months later.

“I was watching … FBI Director James Comey testify, I believe, in front of the Senate, saying ‘we can vet until the cows come home and we know won't know who these people are. ,’and yet Obama at the time was telling the American people: ‘Don't worry about it. We're going to vet everyone,’ and what we were watching as Americans [was] very unnerving,” she said.

In fact, Mr Comey made the reference to a bovine homecoming during testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee, but he did not say the US government would have “no idea” about the identities of refugees entering the US. He told Mississippi Representative Bennie Thompson the vetting procedures used to screen refugees were not perfect because they relied on foreign databases of criminal records or foreign intelligence databases.

Continuing, Ms Barnette that her 16 January 2016 tweet was also driven by the Pulse nightclub mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, which would not occur for six months, and vehicle attacks by Isis-inspired terrorists in the US, though the first such attack in the US — which took place on the campus of Ohio State University — would not occur until 28 November 2016.

“At that time, I was hosting a show called Truth Exchange and I would have all kinds of ideas and was leaning into helping the public begin to have those conversations and so those were some of the that's the context around a lot of those tweets,” she said before suggesting that her tweets were “not even full thoughts” and “not even full sentences, then claiming that she could not “provide a lot of context” because the tweets were posted “almost 10 years ago”.

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