Fetterman attempts to wrangle support from GOP voters after he said Republican base is xenophobic, homophobic

Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman, who has worked to garner support from GOP voters in the Keystone State ahead of next month’s election, previously claimed that the “Republican hard core base” represents nationalism, xenophobia and homophobia.

Fetterman’s comments came during a podcast conversation with the Delco Young Democast at the Pennsylvania Young Democrats Convention in August 2018.

Speaking about efforts to engage with Republican voters across the state during his campaign for lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, Fetterman said: “There are some in the Republican Party that are unreachable, you know.”

“Nationalism, xenophobia, homophobia just overall… I mean, that’s the Southern Strategy, right? That’s been part of the Republican hard core base since the Republican Party made it part of their base,” Fetterman added.


Pennsylvania’s Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman speaks to supporters gathered in Dickinson Square Park in Philadelphia on October 23, 2022, as he campaigns for the US Senate.

Fetterman, who now serves as the lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, said at the time that he believed there were individuals who voted for former President Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election who were “reachable” and could be persuaded into voting for him, and that his party has a message that is “unapologetically Democratic” and “unapologetically progressive.”

Fetterman’s outlook on Republicans has seemingly changed, however, as his campaign aims to win support from GOP voters in the state ahead of the November election.

Earlier this month, Fetterman’s Senate campaign launched the “Republicans for Fetterman” initiative, which featured ads with comments from alleged conservative voters in the state who say they will vote for Fetterman over his Republican opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz, in the November 8 midterm election

The effort, according to a report from NBC10 Philadelphia, consists of both digital and television ads. 

Fetterman has also touted the support he is receiving from Republicans on the campaign trail, writing in a tweet this month that he is “deeply grateful” to have the support of Vince Tulio, a Montgomery County resident who said he has “been a Republican” his entire life and will vote for Fetterman.

Another Fetterman ad showcasing a self-described Republican voter from Pennsylvania, which was paid for by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and is titled “That’s the point,” features Colleen Bixler of Westmoreland County. In the ad, Bixler said she is “tired of Washington Republicans and Mitch McConnell.”

“They just work for the lobbyists to rig everything for the rich — trading stocks to benefit themselves, sign bad trade deals, side with corporations,” Bixler claimed in the ad. “Now, Mitch is spending millions to stop John Fetterman. John will ban them from trading stocks, lower taxes on working people, fight to make stuff here. Fetterman won’t fit in in Washington. That’s the point.”

Despite the support he is receiving from some supposed Republicans in the state, Fetterman has a history of telling voters that he does not want their support if they hold certain beliefs.


During a February 2016 interview with In These Times magazine, prior to Trump’s victory over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, Fetterman, who was campaigning for the Senate while serving as the mayor of Braddock, was asked about the “Make America Great Again” slogan that the Trump campaign had adopted.

In his response, Fetterman said he did not want support from those who “cheer” for Trump and claimed the then-presidential candidate had said “reprehensible” things about a number of subjects.

“My campaign has released a one-sentence press release calling Donald Trump a ​’jagoff,’ which is Western Pennsylvania for jerk,” Fetterman said at the time. “Populism has a dark side and Donald Trump is mining that for all it’s worth by saying reprehensible things about Muslims, about immigrants, about you name it. If you get to live vicariously through that and cheer him on, I don’t expect to get your vote, and frankly, I don’t want it.”

Similarly, Fetterman said a month later that he did not want support from those who oppose the acceptance of Syrian refugees in America, primarily child refugees. Fetterman’s remarks were captured in a video that was uploaded to YouTube by the Middletown Democratic Party in March 2016.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and his GOP challenger, Dr. Mehmet Oz, will face off in the Pennsylvania Senate election on November 8.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and his GOP challenger, Dr. Mehmet Oz, will face off in the Pennsylvania Senate election on November 8.
(Hannah Beier/Bloomberg  |  Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)


“When you listen to the kind of poisonous rhetoric that’s coming from the other side it’s a race to the bottom on who can say the nastiest, ugliest things about immigrants with ignoring the reality that they came from somewhere, too, you know? Marco Rubio’s family fled a dangerous regime that wanted to get nuclear weapons, that were sworn enemies of the United States,” Fetterman said. “Where’s Marco Rubio come from? Cuba. But Marco Rubio and the Republicans turn their backs on any Syrians coming into this country. How is it any different?”

“If you think that we should not let in a little five-year-old Syrian orphan boy into this country, then I don’t want your vote,” he added. “I really don’t, because we are better than that as a country.

Fetterman and Oz will face off in a televised debate on Tuesday, just two weeks ahead of the state’s Senate election.