Fetterman can’t shake off health issues in tight Senate race against Oz

Nearly a week after Democratic Pennsylvania candidate for the U.S. Senate John Fetterman’s shaky performance in a debate with Republican candidate Mehmet Oz, the Pennsylvania lieutenant governor’s recovery from a stroke in May remains a widely discussed topic. discussed in the run-up to the November 8 elections.

On Oct. 25, in the only scheduled debate between the candidates vying to replace retired Republican Senator Pat Toomey, Fetterman often struggled to speak in full sentences, stumbled over his words, and delivered answers punctuated with pauses. extended.

Before the contestants made their opening statements, the moderators explained that a closed captioning system would be used so that Fetterman could follow their questions and Oz’s answers. Fetterman’s campaign made the request and the Oz campaign agreed.

Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz speaks at an event with Nikki Haley in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on Oct. 26, 2022. (Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Fetterman suffered a stroke days before the May primary and voted from a hospital room.

Fetterman’s speaking challenges were evident at every stage of the event. The exchange regarding his conflicting positions on fracking in recent years illustrated his struggles.

Oz pointed out that Fetterman “supported the vote against the Keystone pipeline that ended up shutting it down” and that he “supports Biden’s desire to ban fracking and public lands.”

Fetterman responded by saying, “I’ve always supported fracking and always believed that independence with our energy is essential, and we can’t be held, you know, to ransom for someone like Russia. .

“I have always believed that energy independence is essential and I have always believed this – and I support fracking, I have never taken money from their industry, but I support how essential it is that we produce our energy and create energy independence.”

A moderator went on to ask, “I have a specific question you can follow up on this topic, but you made two conflicting statements regarding fracking. In a 2018 interview, you said, ‘I don’t support du all fracking, I’ve never done it,” but earlier this month you told an interviewer, ‘I support fracking.’ I support the energy independence that we should have here in the States -United.

The moderator went on to ask Fetterman, “So [how] do you square the two [comments]?”

“I support hydraulic fracturing. And I don’t, I don’t, I support fracking and I stand up and support fracking,” Fetterman replied.

Democratic leaders and pundits debate whether Fetterman made a mistake in speaking out.

David Carlucci, a former New York state senator who is a Democratic campaign strategist, told The Epoch Times that Fetterman showed “courage” in debating Oz.

“Most politicians would have skipped the debate. He (Fetterman) is leading in the polls and is well known to be recovering from a stroke,” Carlucci said. “He had the courage to be transparent with voters and to say that he is dealing with this disability and the setbacks that come with a stroke. It’s real, and I think it’s refreshing.

Former Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell offered advice on how Fetterman can bounce back from the performance.

“In retrospect, he probably shouldn’t have debated,” Rendell told The Associated Press. “But the key is that he recovers from a stroke.”

“The only way to get over this is for John to go out in public as much as possible – to be seen, to be interviewed, and to do whatever he can to let people know he’s ready to take office,” added Rendell. .

Fetterman heeds this advice.

On October 26, Fetterman appeared on an outdoor stage in Pittsburgh and spoke for 13 minutes before introducing musician Dave Matthews.

On October 27, Fetterman participated in a virtual town hall hosted by the US Hispanic Business Council.

The organization represents 4.8 million Hispanic-owned businesses that contribute $800 billion to the US economy, according to founder and CEO Javier Palomarez.

Palomarez said he watched the Oct. 25 debate and was “less concerned with a debate’s performance and more about where it stands on the issues that matter to the small business community.”

“More people are leaving the state than entering it. The reason is that there are few jobs in the state. Lack of growth points to a bleak economic picture,” Palomarez told The Epoch Times.

“We surveyed over 4,000 Hispanic business owners in Pennsylvania. They all say the same message. “Hey man, I’m struggling to keep my business alive.”

Hispanics make up 30% of jobs in the energy sector, so Fetterman’s views on this topic are particularly important, Palomarez said.

“The transition to clean energy is a laudable goal. However, our businesses have to live in the real world,” Palomarez said. “The current administrator is going too far, too fast. We need elected officials to put the brakes on the breakneck pace that is driving up prices all over the place for business owners.

“As the price of energy goes up, so does the price of everything else,” he added. “Whether it’s Oz or Fetterman, we need a senator who walks into the chamber and understands the realities facing small business.”

During the town hall, which also used closed captioning, Fetterman expanded on his beliefs about energy and fracking.

“I fundamentally believe that we should always produce more energy here in America,” Fetterman said. “The truth is, Democrats should always be honest about energy security and how critical it is that we can’t have a strong economy if we don’t have the power to support it.”

A reliance on all-renewable energy is “simply not realistic”, he added.

Fetterman was asked if he would support initiatives such as Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s proposal to streamline the approval process for pipelines and power transmission lines.

“As long as it’s done in a very safe and environmental way, I support that,” Fetterman said. “As long as it doesn’t pass through residential neighborhoods or [is a] danger for the population, I can support it.

At a rally last weekend at Temple University in Philadelphia, Fetterman told a crowd of supporters that “the debate was not easy, you know” and that “after this stroke, I got knocked down, but I got up because I had to.

“And that’s really the core value of our campaign,” Fetterman added. “We are running for anyone who has ever been knocked down and had to get back up as well. All the forgotten communities or the towns of communities that have been left behind, that have been knocked down, because they have to rise again.

Last weekend, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attended the Independence Dinner in Philadelphia. Fetterman and Pennsylvania Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro were also present at the Pennsylvania Democratic Party fundraiser.

Biden said the Nov. 8 midterm elections “are going to shape what this country looks like for the next decade or more; not a joke. Let’s be clear: this election is not a referendum. It’s a choice, a choice between two very different visions of America.

At the event, Biden said of Fetterman, “You know who he is, you know where he is, and you also know John is in Pennsylvania.”

Biden and former President Barack Obama will gather in Philadelphia on Nov. 5, three days before Election Day.

They will campaign for Fetterman and Shapiro with “Pennsylvania Democrats in the Ballot Ahead of the Midterm Elections,” the Democratic National Committee announced Oct. 31.

Epoch Times Photo
(Left) Republican Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz hosts a community discussion on safer streets at Galdos Catering and Entertainment in Philadelphia on Oct. 13, 2022. (Mark Makela/Getty Images); (Right) Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman speaks to supporters at Dickinson Square Park in Philadelphia on Oct. 23, 2022. (Kriston Jae Bethel/AFP via Getty Images)

Fetterman entered the debate with a two-point lead over Oz in the latest poll. Released Oct. 25, the CBS News-YouGov survey showed Fetterman 51% support to Oz’s 49%.

On Oct. 26, Oz took a 47.5% to 44.8% lead over Fetterman, according to a poll by Insider Advantage.

Wick Insights released a survey on Oct. 28 that showed Oz ahead of Fetterman, 47.6% to 45.9%. Of the 3% who were undecided, 64.4% said they leaned toward Oz, compared to 35.6% for Fetterman.

In a compilation of polls, FiveThirtyEight shows Fetterman with a 47% to 45.8% advantage as of Oct. 31.

In the final week leading up to Nov. 8, Fetterman should focus on what makes him different from Oz and the mainstream Chosen Ones, Carlucci explained.

“He wears hoodies, has tattoos and doesn’t fit the mold of a typical politician, and that appeals to a lot of Pennsylvania voters,” Carlucci said. “He should continue to attend events and show firsthand the contrast between him and Oz.

“We are in a hyper partisan environment,” Carlucci added. “If you’ve already decided, this debate hasn’t changed your mind.”

Jeff Louderback

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Jeff Louderback is a national reporter for The Epoch Times who is based in Ohio and covers the US Senate, US House, and gubernatorial races in Ohio and surrounding states.

Jessica C. Bell