Fetterman’s lingering stroke effects would clearly handicap him as senator, GOP senate experts say

Former Republican Senate aides Wednesday argue that the effects from Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman’s stroke, as visible in a Tuesday debate, would hamper his ability to properly serve in the Senate. 

Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s Democratic lieutenant governor, needed the assistance of real time closed captioning to participate in the event with his Republican opponent, Mehmet Oz. Fetterman suffered a stroke earlier this year and a lingering effect of the stroke is that he struggles to process spoken words. 

Several times during the debate Fetterman had trouble communicating his positions on issues from fracking to the Supreme Court. He stumbled over words and struggling to complete thoughts. 


One former Republican Senate aide said that Fetterman’s communication struggles alone are enough to significantly handicap him as a senator. 

“It’s not so say that his intelligence has been impaired,” the aide said. But his “ability to receive” information and “advocate for the positions he thinks are right for Pennsylvania” is reduced.

The aide said the consequences of Fetterman’s condition will be “most pronounced in committee work” where he has to “engage with an argument, probably on an academic or policy level… then has to provide a response.” 

This is also on top of senators’ travel schedules between their states and D.C., as well as events like international CODELS, the GOP aide said.

A former Democratic Senate aide disagreed – arguing that Fetterman’s communication issues will only get better as time goes on over a six-year term, if he is elected. The Democratic aide added that the Senate’s day-to-day operations don’t exactly resemble a fast-paced TV debate. 


“The Senate is called the world’s most deliberative body for a reason. They’re not fast-paced, hectic, it’s not the House,” the aide said. “He’s going to be in a body that’s intentionally meant for deliberative thought, long-form answers, well-thought-out legislation.” 

“His job is to work with his colleagues, come up with legislation and vote on it,” the aide said. 

The former Democratic aide also disputed the idea that Fetterman’s condition would hurt his ability to travel. He only lives in Pennsylvania, the aide noted, whereas, “[Senator] Lisa Murkowski has to fly home to Alaska.” 

Fetterman also would be joining a body with a history of members staying in office despite any number of infirmities. 

“He won’t be the senator with the most debilitating problems, mental issues, cognitive issues currently or in the time that I’ve been in the Senate,” the former Democratic aide said. “I’m not saying that’s a good thing… but he won’t be the first.” 


Fetterman’s campaign recently released a letter from his doctor, who is a donor to his campaign, which says he is fit to serve and is continuing to recover from his stroke. Fetterman communications director Joe Calvello Tuesday also said the candidate’s performance Tuesday showed he is able to handle the job of a senator. 

“We are thrilled with John’s performance,” Calvello said. “He did remarkably well tonight – especially when you consider that he’s still recovering from a stroke and was working off of delayed captions filled with errors. John won countless exchanges, counter-punched aggressively, and pushed back on Oz’s cruelty and attacks.”

Nexstar disputed that criticism of its closed captioning and said Fetterman didn’t take full advantage of his practice opportunities. 

“As we’ve said over and over again, John is healthy and fit to serve, and he also still has a lingering auditory processing issue from the stroke,” Cavello separately said about Fetterman’s health, in a statement that referenced the recent letter from his doctor as well as one earlier this year. 

“Unfortunately for Dr. Oz and the pathetic Republicans who are desperately rooting against his recovery, John is getting better every day and he is going to win this race to be Pennsylvania’s next Senator,” Cavello added. “In January, John is going to be even better — and Dr. Oz will still be a fraud.”

John Ashbrook, a former top aide for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., meanwhile said that health concerns are not even the top reasons voters should avoid sending Fetterman to D.C.

“More concerning than the debacle last night is his career track record of not showing up for work,” Ashbrook said. “Well documented by the AP and the Washington Post, he simply disappeared in previous roles as Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania and Mayor of Braddock where he quit attending council meetings altogether. The only thing worse than being incapable of advocating for his constituents, is being uninterested in the job.”

Fox News’ Landon Mion contributed to this report. 

Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman Tuesday struggled to communicate ideas during a televised debate against his Republican opponent.

Go to Source