Lou Barletta Criticized for Nigel Farage Invite

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Rep. Lou Barletta is the Republican nominee against Sen. Bob Casey. | Lou Barletta/Facebook.

Nigel Farage is one of the most polarizing figures in British and American politics, maligned by the left and adored by the right. He helped orchestrate Britain’s successful vote to leave the European Union, and President Donald Trump endorsed Farage — unsuccessfully — to be the United Kingdom’s ambassador to the United States.

So it’s little surprise Rep. Lou Barletta, the Republican challenger to Democratic incumbent Sen. Bob Casey for November’s midterm election and a noted Trump ally, invited Farage to a July 20 fundraiser.

But comments Farage, the former leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), made in October 2017 have prompted some to question Barletta’s decision.


“There are other very powerful lobbies in the United States of America, and the Jewish lobby, with its links with the Israeli government, is one of those strong voices,” Farage said on his radio show.

Many have derided Farage’s comments as anti-Semitic. In a May interview with Newsweek, Barletta insisted his words had been taken out of context.

Farage was “dealing with a virulently anti-Semitic caller who said he didn’t think it was the Russians that influenced the U.S. election, it was the Jews — that the Jews got Trump elected. To which I said: Well, there is a Jewish lobby, and it is well organized, and they are very professional, but not for one moment do I think they influenced the election result,” Farage said.

The Guardian reported in June 2017 that Farage has been labeled a “person of interest” in the federal investigation into potential ties between Trump’s campaign and Russian election meddling.

Casey campaign spokesperson Max Steele called on Barletta to disinvite Farage. He told PennLive that “raising money with an anti-Semitic white nationalist … marks a new low for his campaign.”

Barletta isn’t ceding to the pressure, though. David Jackson, Barletta’s campaign spokesperson, wrote in a July 11 email that plans haven’t changed regarding Farage’s appearance and pointed to a letter 17 Jewish supporters released addressing Casey’s condemnations.

“Congressman Barletta is a man of high character who is committed to protecting religious freedom, combating racist ideologies, and supporting Israel and the Jewish people,” the letter stated. Eric M. Morrison, an attorney from Mechanicsburg, was one of the people to sign the letter.

Morrison called Barletta a “longtime friend,” and said the candidate invited him to attend the joint session of Congress on March 3, 2015, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the Iran nuclear deal. Morrison called the Casey campaign’s attacks on Barletta “dirty politics at its worst.”

“For Nigel to express the Jewish lobby as influential in the United States — yes, it is! I fail to see anything anti-Semitic in that remark,” Morrison said. “To try to equate a strong Jewish lobby to anti-Semitism, I think is a twisting of the facts.”

Lynne Kessler Lechter, an attorney from King of Prussia, also signed the letter and echoed Morrison’s sentiment.

“I’m having a problem with this whole dog whistle stuff about anti-Semitism,” Lechter said. “The issues I look at are so different in terms of what is anti-Semitism.”

Barletta, 62, has been in the House of Representatives since 2011, having been elected to serve Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District. Known for his commitment to cracking down on illegal immigration, Barletta has pledged to “give President Trump the help he needs” in the Senate.

He faces an uphill battle in getting there, though.

Casey, 58, has served since winning election in 2006 and is regarded as the favorite in many polls to win his third term. A Franklin & Marshall College Poll conducted by the Center for Opinion Research released June 14 had Casey leading Barletta 44 percent to 27 percent with 28 percent undecided.

Berwood Yost, director of the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College, doesn’t think Farage’s appearance will have a detrimental impact on Barletta’s chances. Rather, he considers Barletta’s biggest hindrance his lack of name recognition against Casey, an entrenched figure in Pennsylvania politics. Casey is a former auditor general and treasurer of Pennsylvania, and is the son of a former governor.

“The other thing that’s important is this doesn’t seem to be among the top tier of races the Senate Republicans are supporting,” Yost said.

Instead Barletta is tasked with generating support elsewhere. That effort includes fundraising events, like the one Farage is scheduled to attend.

Farage is “closely aligned with President Trump, and Barletta’s first need is to make sure he shores up his base with Trump voters,” Yost said.

jneedelman@jewishexponent.com; 215-832-0737

1 COMMENT

  1. I am more concerned about how far to the left the Democrat Party has become and how it has abandoned Israel. Whether it’s the old faces of the Democrat Party like Bernie Sanders or the new faces like the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes or establishment people like Keith Ellison — they all are anti-Israel — denigrating Israel (the only democracy in the Middle East), demanding boycotts, and denying the legitimacy of Jerusalem as the capital. Good voices of moderation like Joe Lieberman have been run out of the Democrat Party.

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