Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., is gaining popularity with Republicans with his stances on Israel and strict border policies, and now rather than describing him as a dangerous “radical socialist,” he’s being described as being “independent.”
“It certainly makes it more appealing to want to work with him on things if you see this independent streak,” Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., commented about Fetterman, while Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., has praised him as a lawmaker who “speaks his own mind” and “doesn’t follow the party line,” reports Politico.
It’s not clear yet if the freshman senator will want to evolve further into becoming a chamber dealmaker in the mold of retiring Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and his voting record, despite his public comments, remains in line with that of other Democrats.
Fetterman told Politico that Republicans should not be shocked about his recent remarks on Israel and the border and that they shouldn’t believe their party’s 2022 campaign attacks against him.
When Fetterman took office last year, defeating Republican candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz, Senate Republicans were trying to compare him with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a democratic socialist.
Since then he has defended Israel’s war against Hamas while Sanders and other liberals were suggesting U.S. aid be cut. He has also defended bipartisan talks on strict border policies and called to expel Sen. Bob Menendez after the New Jersey Democrat was indicted on bribery charges, labeling Menendez often as a “sleazeball.”
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, commented that he does not know if Fetterman has “had an epiphany” but has “obviously gotten a lot of people’s attention.”
Even though some of Fetterman’s stances have gotten Republican approval, in other cases he’s been called a progressive, a label he’s rejected.
The senator wants universal health care, even though he doesn’t agree with Sanders’ call for “Medicare for all,” and he wants to abolish the filibuster.
He also continues to wear his hoodies and even gym shorts in the Senate, which has brought complaints from more traditional lawmakers.
Further, Fetterman has said while on the campaign trail that he could let down the centrist-leaning “Joe Manchin Democrats” and has urged his fellow party members to “vote like Democrats,” but still Senate Republicans appear to be ready for a new look at him.
“I know from politics, my own race, that not everything people say about you is actually true,” Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, said, while admitting his Democrat colleague said some “smart” things in recent months. They have worked together on rail safety legislation.
Fetterman has also been cosponsoring agriculture bills with Sen Mike Braun, R-Ind., who praised him for “bucking Biden and everybody else” on immigration.
Even with Republicans appearing to come around, there are some, like Cramer, who insist that Fetterman’s views are “largely left, in some cases very left.”