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Conservative group texts Pa. voters false claim that Biden backs sex reassignment surgery for kids

A conservative Super PAC says it is sending 1 million Pennsylvania voters text messages, claiming Joe Biden endorsed sex reassignment surgery for children. Biden never said that.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at the start of an Oct. 15 ABC News town hall at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at the start of an Oct. 15 ABC News town hall at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.Read moreCarolyn Kaster / AP

Voters across Pennsylvania are receiving text messages with a surprising — and false — claim about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

“Hi, I’m a Democratic volunteer with APP PAC,” the text says. “Did you see Joe Biden endorsed sex change operations for children as young as 8? That’s way too extreme and frankly it’s really weird."

The text, sent by the conservative Super PAC American Principles Project, asks voters to watch a 30-second video, in which a narrator falsely claims Biden endorsed such medical procedures. The video includes images of Biden speaking to Mieke Haeck, the mother of an 8-year-old transgender child at an Oct. 15 ABC town hall in Philadelphia.

Biden told Haeck “there should be zero discrimination” against transgender people, including children.

Terry Schilling, APP’s executive director, claims that amounts to an endorsement of sex reassignment surgery for children.

“We finally got him on camera saying this,” Schilling said. “It makes it more powerful than having a narrator have to say this all on camera.”

But Biden didn’t say that. And APP used a narrator to falsely claim he did.

Called on that, Schilling pivoted, claiming it is “up to Joe Biden to come out and explicitly” take a position on the issue — after his group had already falsely assigned to him a position.

“That’s what happens in politics," he said. “We’re connecting the dots and making a claim.”

» READ MORE: The Divided States of Pennsylvania: How one state embodies America's political discord

Biden’s campaign declined to play this particular game of shenanigans, which was born on social media after the town hall.

Haeck told Clout that led to a week of what she and her husband called “a wave of sludge” — hateful attacks online from people who do not know her or her family.

She called APP’s claims a “blatant lie” and considered the PAC’s video so over the top in its attempt to be scary that it was “almost laughable.” Haeck would have told Schilling that, if his PAC had reached out to her.

“It has nothing to do with medical intervention, medication or surgery,” she said of her question for Biden. “That’s not what we’re talking about. It’s about my daughter using she and her pronouns, growing her hair and being who she is in her heart.”

The Associated Press, in a fact-check published last week, debunked those social media claims, noting that Biden’s website promises civil rights protections for transgender people and does not mention surgical procedures.

Schilling said his group is targeting 1 million Democratic and independent voters in Pennsylvania with the text messaging operation, using more than 100 volunteers from around the country. The group deploys a service that allows volunteers to send 10,000 texts per hour.