In a debate that was almost too painful to watch, Democratic candidate for the Pennsylvania Senate race, John Fetterman, struggled to answer questions and at times, to speak at all.
After suffering a stroke days before the May Democrat primary, the lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, has had difficulty with finding words and speaking and was hesitant to debate Republican Senate candidate, Mehmet Oz. Fetterman finally agreed to debate Oz after mounting pressure from local and national media including the Washington Post.
The highly anticipated debate took place Tuesday night in Harrisburg with both candidates having closed captions as Fetterman had requested the ADA assistance to help him process questions.
The struggles began immediately for Fetterman when he took the stage and opened with the remark, “Hi, goodnight, everybody,” in response to the moderator, Dennis Owens’, first question, “What qualifies you to be a U.S. Senator?”. Fetterman’s difficulties continued throughout the debate with awkwardly long pauses and confusion with what appeared to be both forming thoughts as well as speaking words.
One of Fetterman’s bigger fumbles came when he was asked if he supported fracking saying, “I do support fracking, and I don’t, I don’t — I support fracking, and I stand, and I do support fracking.”
Fetterman then went on to talk about his record with crime during his tenure as mayor of Braddock and said, “I was able to stop gun violence for five and half years as mayor — ever accomplished before or since my time as mayor because I’m the only person on this stage right now that has successful about pushing against gun violence and being the community more safe.”
At one point the lieutenant governor went on to state, “The real doctors that I believe in, they all believe that I’m ready to be serve.”
Fetterman has been dealing with an “auditory processing” issue since his stroke in May and his personal physician confirmed on October 15 that he continues to have symptoms of “Auditory Processing Disorder.”
When asked about the disorder on MSNBC’s 11th Hour in August, Fetterman told Stephanie Ruhle, “it’s just basic auditory processing, and there is [sic] expecting to have full recovery over the next several months.”
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Rather than coming out of the debate looking like a serious and reliable candidate, Fetterman appeared confused and feeble with him pulling more empathy from the public rather than political support.
It will be interesting to see how drastically the debate has changed voters’ opinions of John Fetterman as a qualified candidate. Pennsylvanians will have their answer after the November midterms in 2 weeks.