John Fetterman seeks way forward after debate battle in Pa. Senate race

Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman and his allies were busy managing the damage on Wednesday, trying to write off his crappy debate performance in the Senate race against Republican Mehmet Oz as both the result of his stroke and the fact that he never has shone on the debate stage.

The analysis after the debate was generally brutal for Mr Fetterman. The 53-year-old Democrat took the podium in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania as his party’s best hope of turning over a Republican seat and left on shaky ground after raising more questions about his overall health.

“He certainly didn’t get support,” said G. Terry Madonna of Millersville University of Pennsylvania. “The question that remains is: has he lost support?”

The 60-minute confrontation offered a stark contrast in styles and policy views. However, Democrats were concerned that Mr. Fetterman’s performance would overshadow the candidate’s apparent disagreements on issues.

Indeed, Mr. Oz delivered a much more polished performance, building on his years of experience on camera as a celebrity doctor on television.
Mr. Fetterman, meanwhile, came across as woodsy and occasionally unable to express his thoughts clearly.

It reflected the image of every man he has cultivated on the campaign trail, which has helped him connect with voters. But it also showed the ongoing challenges he faces with auditory processing.

The campaign of Mr. Fetterman tried to shift some of the blame for his struggles onto the captioning his campaign asked to help him process questions.

Gary Weitman, a spokesperson for the Nexstar Media Group, which hosted the debate, said both candidates agreed to the technical set-up for the captions weeks ago and had the chance to do two full rehearsals using the same equipment for the debate.

“Mr. Fetterman chose to do just one. In fact, the Nexstart production team went to extraordinary lengths to ensure the effectiveness of the captioning process and to accommodate several last-minute requests from the Fetterman campaign,” said Mr. Weitman “The captioning process functioned as expected during rehearsal and again during [Tuesday’s] debate.”

“We regret that Mr. Fetteman and his campaign think otherwise,” he said.

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