Independent voters tell NBC Fetterman’s debate performance ‘felt very difficult to watch’


Members of an NBC News independent voter panel were the latest critics of Democratic Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman’s debate performance Wednesday.

Fetterman’s only debate with Republican candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz on Tuesday was one of the most anticipated events of the 2022 midterm election and became a social media storm as people watched Fetterman in action live for the first time since he suffered a stroke in May.

Throughout the debate, the Pennsylvania Lt. Governor appeared to struggle to answer some questions and took lengthy pauses before answering others, perhaps in part due to reading the closed captioning his campaign requested to accommodate his auditory processing issues.

Three independent voters voiced concerns about Fetterman’s health to Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press Now” following the performance.

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“It felt very difficult to watch. I kind of felt sorry for him. Of course, like, he had a stroke, and he’s suffering and his doctors say that he’s fit to serve, but I had a harder time comprehending what he was trying to convey,” Muhammad Ali Nasir said.

“I felt almost bad for John Fetterman. I think there is no question that his social media campaign has been very sharp and good and appealing, but when he got on the debate stage, I couldn’t really understand a lot of the points he was making. On the other side, I thought Oz looked pretty sharp. Sounded like a politician. I don’t know that Fetterman was really able to convey many of his positions on issues,” Michael Pasek said.

However, the third voter defended Fetterman as someone suffering from a “traumatic brain injury.”

“I have a background in the military as a medic. I saw many people suffer traumatic brain injuries. So I keep that in mind as I am viewing what Fetterman is going through. He is healing. I don’t think we would hold that against anybody else if they had a broken arm and they were healing. So he is on his road to recovery. We kind of have to keep that in mind. It is the healing side of him,” Marilyn Kelly-Cavotta said.

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They each gave different answers when asked if there’s anything Fetterman can do to improve his standing.

“I think it is doubtful,” Pasek said.

“I think about my buddies that came home with traumatic brain injuries which is what a stroke is. Keeping that in mind and seeing how so many of my friends have come home and functioning perfectly fine. I keep that in my mind as I consider what everybody else saw on the stage last night,” Kelly-Cavotta said.

“I think if he faces the voters, faces of the public a little bit more often. If he can show that he has improvement and if he can show that his injuries or his stroke will not affect his ability to serve,” Nasar suggested.

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Although many liberal critics admitted that Fetterman’s performance was a “disaster,” other mainstream media outlets largely defended him the following day, with some attacking Oz as a “bully.”

A focus group of independent voters on NBC News Wednesday criticized Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman’s performance during his only debate on Tuesday.

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