Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman said Saturday that his debate this week against his Republican challenger, Dr. Mehmet Oz, “wasn’t easy” and blamed the struggles he faced throughout on a stroke he suffered in May.
During his remarks, which came during a weekend neighborhood rally held in Philadelphia, Fetterman attempted to defend his record on several issues, including concerns of rising crime.
“On a serious note, the debate wasn’t easy, you know,” Fetterman said to a crowd of his supporters. “It wasn’t area [sic] five months after a stroke, but p. After that stroke, I got knocked down, but I got back up because I had to. And that’s really the core value of our campaign. We are running for anyone that ever got knocked down that had to get back up, too. Any forgotten communities or community’s towns that got left behind, that got knocked down, because they have to get back up.”
Taking aim at his challenger, Fetterman claimed Oz has never stopped “reminding” voters of the stroke he suffered and suggested that he faces individuals at events who are “trying to get me to miss some words.”
FETTERMAN, OZ SPAR OVER CRIME, ECONOMY, ABORTION IN HEATED PENNSYLVANIA SENATE DEBATE
“You know, I know with my stroke Dr. Oz has never stopped reminding about that… again and again,” he said. “At every event, everywhere I go, there’s usually at least one person that’s showing up trying to get me to miss some words. And that’s the truth. It’s no secret, I’m gonna miss some words, I’m gonna mush some words up together.”
“How inspiring of a campaign is that is,” Fetterman continued. “What kind of a real doctor has somebody that knows that he’s sick rooting to have him not get any better?”
Pointing to his health, Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s current lieutenant governor, said he would be better in January and claimed that Oz “will still be a fraud, though.”
Fetterman also claimed that his Republican opponent has spent a lot of time “lying” about his record on crime, for which he has faced immense criticism from the GOP.
“He’s spent his campaign lying about my record on crime,” Fetterman said of Oz. “I’m a Democrat that I am running on my record on crime. You know, I ran for mayor of my community out in Western Pennsylvania to confront gun violence. It’s always been a very deep, personal issue for me. … Working with the police, funding the police, and working with the community, we created the kind of relationship that was successful that we went more than five and a half years without any murder loss in my community — never done before or since during my time as mayor before I became lieutenant governor.”
Fetterman stumbled many times during his debate against Oz on Tuesday as he attempted to convey his position on a number of issues, primarily when moderators pressed him on prior remarks he made in opposition to fracking, a process he now says he has “always supported.”
FETTERMAN STUMBLES DURING DEBATE WHEN QUESTIONED ABOUT FLIP-FLOP ON SUPPORT FOR FRACKING
“I’ve always supported fracking and I always believe that independence with our energy is critical, and we can’t be held, you know, ransom to somebody like Russia,” Fetterman said. “I’ve always believed that energy independence is critical and I’ve always believed that — and I do support fracking, never taken any money from their industry, but I support how critical it is that we produce our energy and create energy independence.”
Pressed on the issue and how to “square” his previous comments against fracking with his current position, Fetterman said, “I do support fracking, and I don’t, I don’t — I support fracking, and I stand, and I do support fracking.”
In a 2018 YouTube interview, Fetterman said, “I don’t support fracking, at all, and I never have.” He also supported a complete moratorium on fracking in the state, according to an April 2016 Facebook post from Pennsylvania Voters Against Fracking.
Fetterman also dismissed concern over whether he is fit to serve in the Senate and would not commit to a release of his medical records during the debate.
Asked whether he would release his medical records “in the interest of transparency,” Fetterman said, “To me, for transparency, it’s about showing up. I’m here today to have a debate.”
“I have speeches in front of 3,000 people in Montgomery, you know, all across Pennsylvania, big, big crowds,” he added. “I believe if my doctor believes that I’m fit to serve, and that’s what I believe is appropriate.”
Commentators reacting to the debate said Fetterman’s difficulty in answering questions was hard to watch. MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough tweeted during the debate that Fetterman’s “ability to communicate is seriously impaired. Pennsylvania voters will be talking about this obvious fact even if many in the media will not.”
Fetterman and Oz will go head-to-head in the state’s November 8 Senate election.
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