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Right-wing Republicans in Pennsylvania are banning media from campaign stops

WARMINSTER TOWNSHIP, Pa.. For nearly two hours on Saturday, members of the media were denied access to a routine campaign event with the GOP front-runners for governor and the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania by a security team that would not say who had sent them.

“I know my rights,” said a man in a tricorn hat and white knee socks as he was pressured to find out why he prevented the media from entering.

“We’re just following orders,” said another security guard.

The decision to ban journalists from a joint rally for Doug Mastriano, the gubernatorial candidate, and Kathy Barnette, the Senate candidate, turned a normal campaign stop at an office-park venue into a protracted confrontation between journalists and two remote campaigns. real candidates.

Back and forth was emblematic of the relationship between the GOP and the mainstream media over the last decade – primarily because it was so ridiculous.

The man in the colonial clothes enforced the ban on a parking lot along with several other men dressed in modern clothes who did not want contact with journalists and who prevented the journalists from getting close to the building hosted by Barnette, Mastriano and Trump’s former legal adviser Jenna Ellis for a pre-election meeting. At one point, police were called. Even guests had to prove that they had pre-registered online or could not attend.

Eventually, the security team produced a letter from the owner of The Fuge, “the most unique event space in Bucks County,” explaining the situation.

“This letter states that the Doug Mastriano Friends Security Team has the sole authority to accept or deny any person access as they enter the property grounds. The Fuge is the host and will not interfere with the Security Team in any way,” read a member of the security team highly.

Later, The Fuge’s owner, Samuel Cravero, came out and talked to reporters. “I rented a room for a private event and it’s their decision not to have you in here,” he said.

It was a predictable end to a primary election that produced GOP Senate candidate Mehmet Oz, the country’s most recognizable heart surgeon, who eventually received Trump’s approval. It also drove Mastriano, a state senator and a key figure in the bid to overthrow the 2020 election, into a serious dispute over the governor. Earlier on Saturday, Trump issued a last-minute note approving Mastriano. “There is no one in Pennsylvania who has done more or fought harder for electoral integrity than Senator Doug Mastriano,” Trump wrote.

Mastriano’s campaign has previously excluded the media from its events, but the strategy did not make much sense this weekend given the positive news of Trump’s endorsement.

Oz, meanwhile, is practically attached to Barnette, a conservative commentator who began to fist on Oz’s heels and hedge fund director Dave McCormick late in the race. Barnette is a wild card: The author of a memoir about being black and conservative has never held public office and badly lost a house race in 2020. She has also advocated anti-Muslim and anti-gay views.

Trump’s allies are panicking over Barnette’s rise – and the prospect of yet another blemish on his support if Oz loses – calling the situation a “nightmare,” CNN reported. Trump issued a statement Thursday in which he said Barnette has not been properly “investigated” but left the door open to support her in the general election.

“They’re coming out with long knives at this point,” Barnette told an audience in the suburbs of Philadelphia. “I had the best day of my life today.”

A couple of people who spoke to HuffPost before entering the Barnette-Mastriano event said they were turned down by Oz as a candidate and resonated more with Barnette’s story. In a campaign video and during debates, Barnette has talked about how her mother was raped and gave birth to her at the age of 12, a story she has used to resonate with GOP voters about opposing abortion.

“With Oz, it’s just a matter of talking twice about things like the Second Amendment and red flag laws,” said Nick, a 30-year-old IT employee from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. “I appreciate Barnette’s story.”

Neither Barnette nor Mastriano ever addressed journalists outside, but Barnette’s face glowed on a van’s electronic billboard in the parking lot along with the slogan: “I AM YOU!”

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