Fetterman Comeback Highway: John Fetterman, a candidate for the Senate in Pennsylvania, is embracing his health problems in the wake of a stroke and a lackluster debate performance against his opponent, Mehmet Oz.
Details on Fetterman Comeback Highway
John Fetterman was riled up at a campaign rally on Thursday when the effects of his May stroke emerged. “He scammed millions…” Mr. Fetterman repeated “artist” twice. He chuckled and dare his critics to criticize him. “Stroke. Before my stroke, I couldn’t pronounce his wonders.
In the final days of the extraordinary Pennsylvania Senate race, in which a stroke survivor is running against a celebrity TV doctor, Mr. Fetterman is proactively acknowledging that his recovery remains a work in progress, leaning into the issue with humor, sarcasm, and notes of empathy for others struggling with health challenges.
Over four events — a Thursday gathering, a Friday meeting with a Philadelphia congressman, and two Saturday rallies — Mr. Fetterman was high-energy and forceful but uneven in crispness and fluency. He stutters, self-corrects, and adds words. Thursday, he said abortion decisions are between a woman and her doctor. Always has and always should.
Mr. Fetterman’s debate performance last month frightened Democrats in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Mr. Fetterman has ardent supporters who know his past, relish his social media jabs at Dr. Oz, and cheer at any mention of the stroke. The rallies felt like a movement campaign, but how big is it in a deeply divided state and a tough time for Democrats?
Mr. Fetterman sounded calm and pleasant in a Friday meeting with Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon at a Delaware County senior center, a day after gaining Oprah Winfrey’s endorsement, which helped Dr. Oz climb to popularity. He addressed infrastructure using closed captioning.
Before the presentation, he said, “Have people heard I had a stroke?” After that, I realized how important it is to have captioning, which I’m using now. These accommodations increase “participation” Saturday, he joked about speaking before former President Barack Obama, the Democrats’ top spokesman. At his Thursday appearance in Collegeville, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb, he appeared choppy whether talking on abortion rights or China.
He was aggressive and seemed to relish his 18-minute sports-riffed performance (the Eagles and Phillies were both playing). The crowd cheered every other sentence. When he described being a western Pennsylvania mayor, an audience yelled “Braddock!” Mr. Fetterman was the mayor of Braddock, Pa.
I’m John Fetterman and I approve this message because no place should be left behind.
This is one of the final TV ads of our campaign ⬇ pic.twitter.com/Jfdf7HPIuV
— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) November 7, 2022
Dr. Oz’s real estate was insulted with “Yes, sir!” and “Crudité!” Dr. Oz’s footage of shopping for “crudité” was used to critique Mr. Fetterman’s out-of-toughness. A Marist poll after the debate gave Mr. Fetterman a 6-point lead over Dr. Oz among registered and anticipated voters. A post-debate Emerson College Polling/The Hill survey of Pennsylvania voters gave Dr. Oz a tiny edge. Both parties’ strategists call it close.
Mr. Fetterman’s health has been overshadowed by crime, the economy, and Dr. Oz’s biography. Republicans have assailed Mr. Fetterman’s record as state pardons chair, while Democrats face increasing inflation and poor popularity for President Biden.
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“What’s worst?” he asked. “Fetterman’s health or ‘Oz’s from Jersey’?”
Mr. Fetterman had a stroke before the May primary but didn’t report it until Sunday. On Primary Day, he got a pacemaker and defibrillator to address “atrial fibrillation,” his campaign alleged. Doctors disagreed. His campaign gave little updates in the days that followed.
In June, his doctor said he had cardiomyopathy but would be OK if he took his medicines, ate right, and exercised. Mr. Fetterman’s doctor said he “has no job constraints and may execute full duties in public service” and “speaks intelligently without cognitive deficits.” His speech was okay, but he has an auditory processing issue, the doctor stated. “He misses words, meaning he hears but doesn’t process them.
Dr. Chen reportedly donated to Mr. Fetterman’s campaign and other Democrats. Mr. Fetterman slapped hands and posed for photographs Thursday night after his rally in suburban Philadelphia. Advertising recognizes Mr. Fetterman’s aural difficulties.
One worker approached Mr. Fetterman in tears. The 42-year-old gave Mr. Fetterman a marijuana pardon. The candidate oversees pardons as lieutenant governor. He thanked him for the document, but their talk was brief. “Thank you for my freedom,” he sobbed.
Both candidates are campaigning in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Dr. Oz campaigned with Susan Collins and Brian Fitzpatrick; his final pre-election engagement is Monday. Saturday, he appeared with former President Trump and far-right gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano.
His team thought Mr. Fetterman’s “View” appearance touched suburban women. Obama campaigned in Bucks County Sunday with Josh Shapiro. Ms. Winfrey’s endorsement excited his aides and friends. Fetterman’s spokeswoman said, “Fetterman Strikes Back.” He noticed Mr. Fetterman’s doctor’s note and “public recovery”
Mr. Fetterman discusses campaign technique. Mr. Fetterman said Thursday, “I miss words and mash sentences.” He said, “This is recovery.”