John Fetterman’s stroke recovery could influence his plans for future debates with Republican nominee Mehmet Oz.
The campaign for the Democratic lieutenant governor of the Commonwealth says the mid-May stroke has complicated his ability to engage in verbal conversations.
“We are working to figure out what a fair debate would look like with the lingering impacts of the auditory processing in mind,” Fetterman campaign strategist Rebecca Katz. “To be absolutely clear, the occasional issues he is having with auditory processing have no bearing on his ability to do the job as senator. John is healthy and fully capable of showing up and doing the work.”
According to the American Stroke Association, a side effect known as auditory overload can occur. In this situation, the brain has difficulty keeping up with the amount of sensory information it receives.
The Mayo Clinic notes “there are many approaches to helping people recover from stroke. But overall, rehabilitation is centered around specifically focused and repetitive actions — practicing the same thing over and over again.”
Oz has challenged his opponent to a series of five debates, including one that he wanted to occur on September 6 in Pittsburgh. Fetterman has not signed onto participate in any of the five, though has said that he is prepared to debate the celebrity doctor.
“I’m proud of my record as mayor and as Lieutenant Governor and I’m eager to put my record and my values up against Dr. Oz’s any day of the week,” he said in a statement.
The Oz campaign has taken a more aggressive mode over the past few days, offering “concessions” for Fetterman to engage in a debate as well as providing the Top 10 reasons why Fetterman will not debate.
The Post reports that “since returning to in-person events, Fetterman’s speeches have been limited to about 10 minutes and are sometimes halting. He has mostly avoided public interactions with reporters and voters, beyond working the rope line. He has done two one-on-one interviews over Zoom with local news outlets that were conducted with real-time closed captioning to avoid gaps in the conversation. In both interviews, he disclosed his continued struggles in both hearing and speaking.”
“Pennsylvania voters have a right to be concerned about John Fetterman’s health” said National Republican Senate Committee spokeswoman Lizzie Litzow. “It is a real concern. He isn’t answering questions and he’s avoiding debates. What is he hiding? He needs to stop lying and come clean to Pennsylvanians about his ability to serve in the Senate.”
Fetterman will appear on the 11th Hour With Stephanie Ruhle on Wednesday night at 11 p.m. EDT on MSBNC.