New York Magazine’s Rebecca Traister joined MSNBC’s “Alex Wagner Tonight” to discuss the Pennsylvania Senate debate between Mehmet Oz and John Fetterman and said the debate was an “example of such remarkable transparency.”
Host Alex Wagner asked if the Fetterman campaign was able to turn his vulnerability over health concerns following his stroke in May into an asset in Tuesday’s debate.
“I think it’s tough to say whether or not it will wind up being an asset with voters. But, it was certainly an example of such remarkable transparency. The opposite of what the Oz campaign has sort of asserted, which is that he’s somehow hiding something about his health,” Traister said.
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She added that Fetterman’s communicative problems were worse when he becomes frustrated or stressed.
“I think that this context, which you described, is the insanely high stakes of this election, the single debate. Clearly, this was a candidate who is feeling stress, and there is such intense scrutiny, often ableist scrutiny, on how he was going to communicate, and he just did a debate in front of the nation, an audience of anyone who can listen, and it was so transparent,” Traister said.
The journalist admitted Fetterman did fumble and make some verbal mistakes during the debate and added that she didn’t know if it was going to help him or not.
“I think it’s also really interesting, you played a lot of clips, there are moments where he was really strong, including that Bernie Sanders clip, including his very fluent and direct response from raising the minimum wage, I thought was a really strong moment for him. He had some really, really strong comebacks,” she said.
Traister said Oz was “slippery in his presentation,” and said she was surprised by his refusal to answer questions.
Fetterman used closed captioning for the debate, which took place in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
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When discussing abortion, Fetterman said Congress should make abortion legal.
Oz said abortion should involve a conversation between “a woman, her doctor, [and] local political leaders.”
Media figures and critics from both sides of the aisle said Fetterman’s performance was “painful to watch.”
“John 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,” MSNBC host Joe Scarborough said. “This is painful to watch regardless of one’s politics.”