John Fetterman, a Democrat running for the Senate in Pennsylvania, wouldn’t say on Wednesday if he would release more medical records after his near-fatal stroke in May. He only said that he might do so if something changed with his health.
In the nearly hour-long live-streamed interview with the PennLive editorial board on Wednesday, Fetterman admitted that he had a stroke, which he called the “elephant in the room,” and he criticized his GOP opponent, Mehmet Oz, for not wanting to talk to the editorial board. Fetterman stood by the short letter about the candidate’s health that his doctor sent out in June.
“I would say that if anything had changed, I would have definitely updated that, but the progress I’ve made is clear,” Fetterman, who is currently Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor, said.
In the Senate, which is split down the middle, the race between Oz and Fetterman is the best chance for Democrats to flip a seat. Recent polls show that the race between the two candidates is getting closer, with Oz closing the polling lead that Fetterman had built up over the summer.
The question of Fetterman’s health has been a big part of the race. After the stroke, the Democrat didn’t go on the campaign trail for two months. He slowly started to come back with some fundraisers and interviews.
Oz’s campaign has tried to use Fetterman’s health to cast doubt on his ability to do the job. They hope that voters who don’t trust him will vote for a Republican in November, even in a state that President Joe Biden just barely won in 2020.
But a Fox News poll that came out at the end of September showed that most registered voters in Pennsylvania weren’t worried about Fetterman’s health. When asked if they were “worried that Fetterman’s health isn’t good enough for him to do his job as Senator,” 61% said no, while 34% said yes.
Even though Fetterman forgot a few words and had to rephrase a few things during the Wednesday interview, he spoke with more confidence and fluency than he has in the past, including in recent stump speeches.
He also said that his speech has gotten better over the past few months. Fetterman said, “I would not have been able to sit in front of you in May, June, or July.”
During the interview, Fetterman used closed captioning, which he said he has done in every interview since his stroke. The technology will also be in place later this month when Fetterman has his only debate with Oz.
When Fetterman was pushed about not giving out more medical records and asked for proof from a doctor that he can “do the job,” the Democrat said that is how he sees the June letter.
“You know, I decided to run for office for two very different reasons. One, all of the doctors on my team think you’re fine. But what’s even more important is that my family, my other team, agreed to do this as well,” Fetterman said. He later admitted that doing his recovery in public is “making it even harder.”
Fetterman said, “You know, if they don’t think I’m well enough, they wouldn’t have let me want to keep going.” “And if I didn’t think I was healthy enough, I wouldn’t put up with this, you know, walking, living without a net.”
Oz has been asking Fetterman to do the same thing, even right after the Democrat’s interview, when he released his own detailed medical records.
“On NBC News, John Fetterman said 12 times that he would not give out his medical records. Now, when talking to PennLive’s editorial board, John Fetterman refused three more times to give them his medical records, said Oz spokesperson Rachel Tripp. “If you’re keeping track, that’s fifteen times he’s tried to explain why he hasn’t shown his medical records. 15 no’s in just one day! What does John Fetterman have to hide?
During the session, however, Fetterman used the fact that Oz didn’t sit down for the editorial board interview as proof that he has the “courage to know I’m going to miss some words” but still chooses to show up. Fetterman said that it was likely that Republican operatives were watching the interview and “excitedly waiting for me to make a mistake so that they could use that against me.” But I was there.”
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