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Sen. John Fetterman says he isn’t ‘progressive’

‘I’m not a progressive,’ he said last week

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Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., walks through a basement corridor at the Capitol on the way to a Senate vote on Nov. 28, 2023.

Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., walks through a basement corridor at the Capitol on the way to a vote in the Senate, in Washington on Nov. 28, 2023.

J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

Last week, Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman declared he wasn’t a progressive. On Friday, he said he thinks both sides of the aisle don’t wish well upon him.

“What I have found out over the last couple years is that the right, and now the left, are hoping that I die,” Fetterman said in an interview with The New York Times. “There are ones that are rooting for another blood clot. They have both now been wishing that I die.”

The freshman senator’s statements indicate he is breaking away from Democrats over his pro-Israel stance, a hot-button issue. Fetterman ran as a progressive, supporting raising the minimum wage and Medicare for All, reforming the criminal justice reform and legalizing marijuana, as Politico reported in 2021. But now, he is shedding that label.

“I’m not a progressive,” Fetterman told NBC News last week. “I just think I’m a Democrat that is very committed to choice and other things. But with Israel, I’m going to be on the right side of that.”

He told the Times he didn’t ditch the progressive label, “it’s just more that it’s left me.” His unwavering support for Israel contrasts that of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who has called for a cease-fire as the death toll in Gaza has reached 20,000 since Oct. 7, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

“Israel has a right to defend itself, but what Israel does not have the right to do is to kill thousands and thousands of innocent men, women and children who had nothing to do with that attack,” Sanders said last month.

It’s worth noting that Sanders in 2018 called Fetterman an “outstanding progressive,” according to the Times report. At the time, Fetterman was the lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania. Even then, his position on Israel remained the same.

“Whenever I’m in a situation to be called on to take up the cause of strengthening and enhancing the security of Israel or deepening our relationship between the United States and Israel, I’m going to lean in,” Fetterman told Jewish Insider in 2022, adding, “I would also respectfully say that I’m not really a progressive in that sense.”