Pennsylvania Democratic Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman was expected to defeat Republican Dr Mehmet Oz in the highly-watched Keystone State Senate race, boosting Democrats in their quest to retain control of the upper house.
Fetterman held a steady lead over Oz early in the campaign, but the Republican began closing the gap in mid-August after a near-fatal stroke Fetterman suffered in May knocked him out of the running. election campaign for several months.
Even after the Democrat began making public appearances again, including attending a Labor Day parade in Pittsburgh with President Biden, Fetterman still showed the debilitating effects of the stroke.
In his first interview since the episode, given to NBC News in October, Fetterman needed a caption monitor to understand a reporter’s questions and often had trouble speaking clearly as he continued to experience auditory processing problems.
The reporter, Dasha Burns, added to concerns about whether he could serve as a senator when she noted that Fetterman was “struggling to understand our conversation” as they spoke ahead of the interview without the help from the monitor.
As well as adding to speculation about Fetterman’s health, the interview gave Oz an opening to take a shot at his rival.
Oz said Pennsylvania voters “deserve better” than having Fetterman in the Senate.
“I don’t think there’s any captioning on the Senate floor, and maybe he doesn’t need captioning when he’s moving around,” said Oz, a heart surgeon. , a few days later on Fox News Business.
“But maybe he does. Again, lots of question marks and voters deserve better.
Fetterman failed to allay concerns about his health when he met face-to-face with his political nemesis for their first and only debate on Oct. 25.
Asked about his apparent about-face on fracking in Pennsylvania, Fetterman missed the answer.
“I absolutely support hydraulic fracturing,” he said. “I have always supported hydraulic fracturing. I support fracking and – I don’t, I don’t, I support fracking, and I stand up, and I support fracking.
But Oz also caught some heat that night when he opposed federal government intervention in abortion decisions, implying he would vote against a nationwide ban on most procedures. after 15 weeks of pregnancy proposed by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
“As a doctor, I’ve been in the room when there are difficult conversations,” Oz said. “I don’t want the federal government to get involved at all. I want women, doctors, local political leaders, leaving the democracy that has always allowed our nation to thrive to come up with the best ideas so states can decide for themselves.
Several days after the NBC interview, Fetterman’s doctor, who has made a number of campaign donations, released a memo saying the candidate has “no work restrictions”, is recovering well and “can working full-time in the public service”.
Before the stroke took center stage in the Senate race, Fetterman hammered Oz like a baggage handler, accusing the famed doctor of moving from New Jersey to Pennsylvania for the sole purpose of running for office. elections. Fetterman also questioned Oz’s ability to build relationships with residents of the Keystone State.
In August, Oz released a campaign video showing him picking vegetables from a grocery store to represent the high costs people are facing due to inflation and said the ingredients were for a platter of “raw vegetables. “.
But the Oz campaign reminded voters that Fetterman had a light schedule when he was lieutenant governor and that his wealthy family supported him financially when he was mayor of Braddock, a small town outside of Pittsburgh. .
He also accused Fetterman of being soft on crime by granting clemency to prisoners as head of the state pardons board.
New York Post