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Barletta’s Future, Win Or Lose, Linked To Trump

October 13, 2018

Barletta’s Future, Win Or Lose, Linked To Trump

He’s Lou Barletta and he approved this message: “We want to once again show our law enforcement and first responders the respect they deserve,” Barletta says in a campaign commercial running repeatedly on local television. “We want to take care of our vets; we want to honor our military;we want to secure our borders; we want to put an end to illegal immigration once and for all and we want to take a knee to pray and stand for the flag. Help me, help President Trump drain the swamp and make America great again. Thank you.” As the Republican congressman and U.S. Senate candidate from Hazleton speaks, President Donald Trump stands nearby. The commercial footage — only slightly altered from the original — comes from Barletta’s role in Trump’s Aug. 2 rally at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Trump showed up to rally his fans for Barletta, whose campaign lagged badly then and still lags if you believe all the independent polling. During his roughly 78 minutes on stage, the president dubbed Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, Barletta’s opponent, “Sleeping Bob.” Barletta employs the tag in another TV commercial that relies on obviously altered stills and video of Casey asleep. His commercials show he’s as all-in on Trump as ever. Only weeks after U.S. Rep. Tom Marino endorsed Trump in 2016, Barletta joined him and they haven’t backed off. At the outset of this Senate campaign, Barletta said he would never distance himself from Trump and he hasn’t. Not all Republican congressional candidates feel the same way. For example, good luck finding any mention of Trump on Republican congressional candidate John Chrin’s website. If it’s there, it’s well-hidden. Now, let’s pick apart that arena quote from Barletta’s commercial. Barletta talks about showing respect for law enforcement and first responders, some of whom have been under attack the last few years for shooting or suffocating unarmed civilians — black civilians, that is — with cameras rolling and, a couple of times, while the suspects ran or walked away. Trump’s Department of Justice has turned away from aggressively investigating such shootings. Mentions of veterans and the military weren’t unusual. Candidates of both parties talk about both, but Trump has especially emphasized both. On illegal immigration, well, everybody knows Trump’s record on that. From the start of his campaign, Trump has made immigration an issue, calling for a ban on letting Muslims into the country, building a wall to keep out Mexicans and Central Americans, etc. Barletta organized against illegal immigration when he was still Hazleton mayor, and it’s certainly a reason he aligned himself with Trump early on. Now, as for that part about how “we want to take a knee to pray and stand for the flag.” That’s Trump all the way. As NFL players began kneeling during the national anthem to protest wrongful shootings, no one railed harder against the players than the commander in chief. Barletta’s rallying cry translates roughly as “just do it” when it comes to standing for the anthem. As everyone who wears sneakers knows, Nike coined and adopted the slogan “just do it.” The company just used it again in its campaign featuring former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who hasn’t been able to find a job in the National Football League because he instigated the protest kneeling. Stoked by the president, plenty of people raged at the temerity of an NFL player interfering with their enjoyment of football. At the Circle Drive-In flea market a while back, one vendor had his NFL gear for sale because he no longer watches games. Barletta only upped the rhetoric Wednesday in Erie. Once again, Trump stood nearby as the congressman reminded of the nation’s economic surge under his ally. “Unemployment at 3.7 percent, 4 million new jobs were created,” Barletta said. “And this is the stat I love the most, 4 million Americans came off of food stamps, 4 million Americans came off of food stamps, black unemployment at an all-time low, Hispanic unemployment at an all-time low, women’s unemployment at a 64-year low. There are more jobs than people who are unemployed, and I’ll tell you how good the economy is. This economy is so good that even Colin Kaepernick found a job.” Trump and Barletta, perfect together. With less than a month to the Nov. 6 election, maybe Kaepernick will become the new Nancy Pelosi, the former House speaker who remains one of Chrin’s favorite foils. If Barletta wins the election, no one will question his Trump-love strategy. He will say his victory only shows how much Pennsylvanians (and Americans) really like Trump. If he loses, well, lots of people already think Trump will offer Barletta a job in his administration. Saying nice things about the president as you’re losing can’t hurt your chances. Maybe Barletta will find a job in government sooner than Kaepernick finds one in the NFL. BORYS KRAWCZENIUK, The Times-Tribune’s politics reporter, writes Random Notes.

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