But it cannot happen until mid to late October…you know, weeks after early voting begins in Pennsylvania.
All of a sudden, Democrat Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman hardly has any problems from the stroke he had in May and can debate Republican candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Fetterman said “he walks five to six miles a day” and “that his physical health is good.”
He continued: “I’m feeling really great physically. I’m actually feeling better than I have in really a long time. And all of our doctors have never thought that we had any physical limits, and all believe that I’m going to make a full recovery as well.”
That is so different than what Fetterman implied less than a week ago.
However, Fetterman doesn’t want to debate until the middle or end of October.
Pennsylvania’s early voting usually starts 4-6 weeks before the election, which is November 8. But the early voting deadline is November, which is the mail-in ballot request deadline.
That means people will likely be voting up to a month before they hear from Fetterman and Oz.
Fetterman told Politico:
“We’re absolutely going to debate Dr. Oz, and that was really always our intent to do that,” Fetterman told POLITICO in an 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.”
Fetterman declined to specify which debate he will attend or provide an exact date for it, though he said it will “be sometime in the middle to end of October” on a “major television station” in the state.
He also said that the campaign is looking at the possibility of using a closed captioning monitor for the event so that he does not miss any words as he continues to recover from his stroke.
“We’re just exploring that,” he said of the closed captioning. “I have every ability to talk about all of these issues and have a full debate. And that’s really just the one lingering issue of the stroke — that some of my hearing was damaged a little bit, but it’s continuing to get better and better and better every day.”
Oz wanted to debate Fetterman this month and brought up his health issues from his May stroke. Fetterman tried to portray Oz as insensitive, but the media, including Pennsylvania media, also wondered if he could serve in the Senate if he could not even debate.
From the editorial board at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
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.
That said, Mr. Oz has raised legitimate concerns. 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. While he has gamely undertaken more campaign events and media interviews in recent weeks, Mr. Fetterman still speaks haltingly and relies on closed captioning to fully understand his conversation partners.
Mr. Fetterman’s campaign asserts confidently that he will make a full recovery, and that he is doing the hard work — including speech therapy — to accelerate that recovery. That is hopeful and laudable, but stroke recovery is notoriously unpredictable. The campaign’s early predictions proved optimistic; the more recent predictions of “several months” to a “complete recovery” may prove optimistic, too.
Even Chris Cizzila at CNN thinks Fetterman’s campaign isn’t telling the public the whole truth.
But, to Cillizza’s credit, he has brought up Fetterman’s health since the stroke. He wrote about the conflicting statements in June: the campaign said he was great while Fetterman said he almost died.
But I noted that Fetterman seemed fine in a video his campaign released to knock Oz’s concerns.
I survived a stroke. Plenty of others have dealt with health challenges too.
Can you imagine if you had a doctor who mocked you for it? pic.twitter.com/T9bGRgtigH
— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) August 31, 2022
Fetterman has spoken to MSNBC, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and KDKA-TV since he returned to the campaign on August 12. He interviewed with Politico over Google Meet:
Fetterman held his first public event after his stroke, a rally, in August. He has made a handful of public campaign stops since then, including appearing at a Labor Day parade in Pittsburgh this week. His conversation with POLITICO was his fourth interview with the news media. He has also talked to MSNBC, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and KDKA-TV.
Fetterman conducted the interview over Google Meet, a video chat app, for about 17 minutes using closed captioning. He sometimes missed words while speaking, but spoke at a normal pace and took a number of questions on issues ranging from the debates to marijuana policy. He did not request to see the questions beforehand.
Then again, I bet Fetterman doesn’t want to debate because he’s beating Oz in the polls despite taking time off between May and August.
FiveThirtyEight: Fetterman +8.1%
RealClearPolitics (overall): Fetterman +6.5%
Emerson: Fetterman +4DONATE
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