Gisele Barreto Fetterman, the wife of Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman, has worked to make a name for herself in the Pennsylvania political arena over the last few weeks as she speaks on her husband’s behalf in certain situations and defends his candidacy in the race.
During a visit to Pittsburgh last week, President Joe Biden insisted that Gisele, who is not seeking elected office, is “gonna be a great, great lady in the Senate.”
Biden’s comment comes at an inopportune time as political rivals and media outlets continue to speculate about the Democratic candidate’s health and capacity to hold public office after a stroke took him off the campaign trail in May. But Gisele, who has been married to Fetterman for nearly 15 years, has emerged as one of his most ardent defenders.
Rolling Stone reporter Kara Voght tweeted and deleted a post calling Gisele the “de facto candidate” for her husband’s US Senate campaign. Voght’s updated tweet changed the description of Mrs. Fetterman from “de facto candidate” to “key surrogate for her husband” in his campaign, seemingly to downplay the impression that John Fetterman is incapable of leading the campaign.
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Gisele has also taken aim at reporters who have questioned Fetterman’s health ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm elections.
Following Fetterman’s recent interview with NBC News correspondent Dasha Burns, Gisele ripped Burns for claiming afterward that her husband had a “difficult” time with small talk prior to the interview and suggested that Burns should face “consequences.”
Gisele Fetterman claimed that Burns’ statements were a “disservice” to her husband, to the disabled community and to Americans in general.
Burns received a torrent of criticism from liberal media figures after noting that Fetterman had a “difficult time” engaging her and her team in small talk prior to the interview. She added that Fetterman was fine once they got to the discussion, which was aided by closed-captioned questions for the candidate.
A native of Brazil who fled from the violence of Rio de Janeiro at the age of 7 with her family in 1990, Gisele, according to reports from Penn-Live Patriot News and CNN, lived in America as an illegal immigrant for nearly a decade. As reported by Newsweek, Gisele received a green card in 2004 at the age of 22 and recalled that day in an opinion piece for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, writing, “I was finally able to stop looking over my shoulder.”
Three years later, Gisele met John Fetterman after she penned a 2007 letter to him while he was serving as mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania.
The letter, according to CNN, came as Gisele Fetterman, then known as Gisele Barreto Almeida, worked as an activist focusing on nutrition, food equity, and Big Brothers Big Sisters – a program with a self-described mission “to change the lives of children facing adversity for the better, forever.”
Fetterman, now the lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, responded to her letter and Gisele, who reportedly wanted to learn more about the town, made her first visit to Braddock, a small borough located in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh, and met with her future husband .
The pair reportedly got married in 2008 and she earned US citizenship the same year.
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Since becoming a US citizen, Gisele, now the second lady of Pennsylvania, has used her platform as Fetterman’s wife to promote causes she finds meaningful.
Gisele Fetterman has founded and co-founded a number of nonprofits in the Braddock area, including The Free Store and 412 Food Rescue.
Dubbed a “Bernie Sanders fantasyland” by CNN in a 2015 report, The Free Store provides people in need with donated items at no cost. “Everything is free. The food, the clothes, the dishes, and the bicycles – all for zero dollars and all without limit,” CNN political producer Jeff Simon wrote at the time.
Another initiative aimed at providing for those in need, 412 Food Rescue says it works to “prevent perfectly good food from entering the waste stream by redirecting it to those who are experiencing food insecurity.”
Gisele is also the co-founder of For Good PGH, which, according to the nonprofit’s website, aims “to develop and implement initiatives that promote diversity and inclusivity, and create positive experiences for underserved populations.”
As for her personal beliefs, Gisele, according to a 2021 report from Center Daily Times, has insisted that she has no ambition to have a role in politics, but that her values on immigration reform, recreational marijuana legalization and LGBTQ rights align with her husband’s.
During a June interview with the Pittsburgh City Paper, Gisele said she “was always involved in all the races” and that she does things together with her family now.
“So, you know, whether when he was running in the primary, whether when he was running for lieutenant governor, I was always involved. I helped, I did a lot of the social media in the beginning, we’re just a team ” she said at the time.
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Gisele Fetterman, who spoke in 2021 at the Women’s March in Reading, Pennsylvania, has been vocal about her opposition on a number of issues, including anti-Muslim rhetoric. A 2019 report from Penn-Live Patriot News revealed that Gisele and Kristen Michaels, her friend and business partner, garnered “international attention when they launched a line of miniature hijabs for Barbie dolls.”
Many of Gisele Fetterman’s other views and sentiments are displayed through her social media pages, most prominently her Twitter account. Through social media, Gisele Fetterman has made clear her support for prominent left-leaning candidates for elected office, including independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
In 2016, Gisele Fetterman identified herself as a delegate for Sanders as he sought the Democratic presidential nomination that year.
She also endorsed Warren in the 2020 Democratic primary for president and later appeared at a Pittsburgh event in support of her candidacy.
“I believe Elizabeth Warren will fundamentally change who holds power in this country,” she stated in a January 2020 tweet. “I want to raise my children in Elizabeth Warren’s America, which is why I’m endorsing her for president.”
In an October 2019 tweet, Gisele Fetterman issued support for universal health care for illegal immigrants, writing that all Pennsylvania “children should have coverage, regardless of citizenship status.”
Earlier that year, in July 2019, Gisele made clear her opposition to ICE raids through a tweet, insisting that America needs “to invest in commonsense and humane solutions, not more camps and more detentions and deportations.”
Gisele Fetterman also took a strong position on former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, particularly that of temporarily separating migrants from their parents at the border.
“This is horrific and a crime against humanity,” she said wrote in a 2020 tweet. “History will judge this administration and anyone who supported these practices harshly. Utter immorality. To come here seeking a dream and a better life to be met this way.”
In addition, she also blamed America for the deaths of 44 illegal migrants who were found in a semi-truck in San Antonio over the summer. “This is barbaric,” she said wrote in response to the news. “I am so sorry this country could not keep you safe.”
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Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Gisele Fetterman also was a strong proponent of wearing face masks, claiming in an August 2021 tweet that the masks provide “instant protection” against the virus. She also claimed in 2020 that wearing a face mask is “an act of love” and a way Americans can show “people you care about them.”
“Miss smiles? Mask mandate ends when 70% of Pennsylvanians are fully vaccinated,” she wrote in a tweet in May 2021.
John Fetterman will face off against his GOP challenger, Dr. Mehmet Oz, in the state’s contentious midterm election next month. The pair will face each other in a televised debate on Oct. 25, just two weeks before Election Day.
Fox News’ Timothy HJ Nerozzi contributed to this article.