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In 2008, Democrat Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman defended then-candidate Barack Obama’s comments calling small-town Pennsylvanians “bitter.”
While running for president, Obama made his infamous comments about Pennsylvanians from small towns being “bitter” while clinging to “guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them” as reasons behind their frustrations.
“You go to these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them,” Obama said.
“And it’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,” the then-presidential candidate continued.
Fetterman — who was the mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, at the time — defended Obama’s remarks in the press as the now-former president was engaged in his contentious primary election against then-New York Senator Hillary Clinton.
“It is not patronizing, it is not condescending, it is not elitism,” Fetterman said to local press. “We need hope and we need a plan and we need someone who is not part of the system in Washington.”
Fetterman also told local media that small-town Americans were mad and frustrated, saying everyone “acknowledges Mr. Obama may have slipped in different words if he could do it over again, but it’s not patronizing, it’s not condescending, it’s not elitism.”
Fetterman’s campaign did not respond to Fox News Digital’s questions on whether he stood by his defense of Obama’s remarks and if he believes that defense resonates with Pennsylvanians living in small communities.
Instead, a campaign spokesperson said, “Seriously, this is all you’ve got left? The scandalous news that, 14 years ago, John supported the candidate who won Pennsylvania by 10 points?”
“Remind me, what was Oz doing in PA in 2008? Oh right, he was living in New Jersey,” the spokesperson added.
The Pennsylvania Democrat’s campaign has been sailing through rough waters recently, with the candidate enduring a stroke and his team walking back a statement from last year appearing to call to “free” every convicted second-degree murderer in the Keystone State.
The campaign said Fetterman does not support releasing all prisoners serving life without parole for second-degree murder and that he believes there are individuals convicted of life without parole who deserve to remain in prison.
In response to a follow-up inquiry, the Fetterman campaign said his 2021 remarks at the PLSE conference “are being taken out of context,” and that it is not clear, based on Fetterman’s phrasing at the time, that he was talking about freeing people from prison.
Fetterman is running against Republican candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz for the open Senate seat.