Due to a lack of debates between U.S. Senate candidates, Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz, and Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who is recovering from a May stroke, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Board said Tuesday it “has serious concerns” about whether Fetterman is physically able to serve if he wins in November.
“Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. and U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman has not fully recovered from the serious stroke he suffered in May. His campaign has acknowledged his obvious struggles with ‘auditory processing’ and speech, but the persistence of those struggles has contrasted with the campaign’s rosier predictions of a return to the rigors of campaigning, including debating his opponent, Mehmet Oz,” the paper’s editorial said Tuesday. “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.”
Fetterman suffered “a serious stroke” days before the May 17 primary where he easily defeated Democratic challenger Connor Lamb 58.6% to 26.3% to gain the party’s nomination, Politico reported.
Fetterman had a stroke and absolutely cannot debate anyone.— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) September 6, 2022
His staffers’ strategy is to hide him – and fake it to put one over on the people of Pennsylvania. https://t.co/msG3QLIdhd
The New York Times reported that Fetterman had a pacemaker with a defibrillator implanted, and just returned to the campaign trail Aug. 12.
He was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a heart condition that makes it harder for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body, according to the report.
Despite coming back out to try to win votes, Fetterman said his ongoing recovery challenges would not allow him to debate, although he is still actively campaigning.
“As I recover from this stroke and improve my auditory processing and speech, I look forward to continuing to meet with the people of Pennsylvania,” the Times reported Fetterman saying in a statement.
The Oz campaign taunted Fetterman saying in a statement, “We will pay for any additional medical personnel he might need to have on standby” and “at any point, John Fetterman can raise his hand and say, Bathroom break!”
While the paper scolded the Oz campaign for “dragging the race deeper and deeper into the muck,” it said that Oz does make a point about Fetterman’s physical ability to serve if elected.
“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,” the editorial said. “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.”
The editorial pointed out that stroke recoveries are “notoriously unpredictable,” and that a live debate would be the best way for voters to evaluate Fetterman’s fitness for the job.
“Voters have a right to know whether their prospective senator can do the job — including handling the give-and-take of a vigorous debate.”