Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D), who is the Democratic nominee for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat, suffered a stroke in May from which he has not yet fully recovered, and his health-related diminishment has become painfully obvious.
A video clip of Fetterman struggling to make brief public remarks at a Labor Day event in Pittsburgh has only further confirmed the growing skepticism among many that his health issues have rendered him unfit to hold elected office, the Daily Wire reported.
It has also further fueled the controversy of his apparent refusal, albeit couched in various excuses, to engage in normal televised political debate with his Republican opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz, ahead of November’s midterm elections.
Ummm … what?
“Send me to Washington, D.C., to send — so I can work with Senator Casey,” Fetterman said haltingly on Monday while addressing union members. “And I can champion the union way of life — in Jersey, excuse me in D.C.”
“Thank you. Thank you very much,” he added with much effort. “And it’s an honor — I live eight minutes away from here. And when I leave tonight, I got three miles away — Dr. Oz in his mansion in New Jersey — you’ve got a friend and you have an ally. Send me to Washington, D.C.”
Fetterman can barely even talk. This is just sad. pic.twitter.com/KDYIqrkqj0
— American Firebrand (@FirebrandPAC) September 6, 2022
An undeniable problem
Sadly, this is not the first time that Fetterman has publicly displayed his struggles to speak clearly and coherently since returning to the campaign trail in an exceptionally limited fashion in mid-August, as GOP digital strategist Greg Price has observed.
John Fetterman today held his second rally since having a stroke in which he spoke for less than 5 minutes.
Here are the highlights. pic.twitter.com/lwo40YWcZi
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) August 23, 2022
In fact, Fetterman’s obvious health issues following his stroke in May compelled the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, who are no real fans of Dr. Oz’s candidacy, to nonetheless agree that Oz and others have made legitimate points in expressing concern about Fetterman’s health and ability to actually do the job he wants voters to elect him to do.
“If Mr. Fetterman is not well enough to debate his opponent, that raises serious concerns about his ability to serve as a United States senator,” the editorial board wrote, and after slamming Oz for how he’s handled his Democratic rival’s health issues, later added, “If Mr. Fetterman’s communication skills have not yet recovered sufficiently to effectively debate his opponent, many voters will have concerns about his ability to represent them effectively in Washington.”
Fetterman says he’s now willing to debate — with certain conditions
For what it is worth, Politico reported Wednesday that Fetterman told the outlet that he was willing to engage in one debate with Oz, perhaps in late October, if certain accommodations for his “auditory processing” problem are made, such as allowing him to use a closed caption monitor to ensure he doesn’t miss anything that is said.
“We’re absolutely going to debate Dr. Oz, and that was really always our intent to do that,” Fetterman said in the exclusive interview. “It was just simply only ever been about addressing some of the lingering issues of the stroke, the auditory processing, and we’re going to be able to work that out.”