Democrats fretted Wednesday over whether their party had suffered a meaningful setback in its effort to hold control of the U.S. Senate with the decision by one of their marquee candidates, John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, to take the debate stage Tuesday night while still recovering from a stroke.
The state’s lieutenant governor stumbled often over his words and spoke haltingly, displaying communication challenges that contrasted sharply with the onstage skills of his opponent, Republican Mehmet Oz, the celebrity doctor who has spent hundreds of hours in front of TV cameras as host of “The Doctor Oz Show,” which ran for 13 seasons.
Fetterman suffered a stroke in May that he has said didn’t affect his cognitive skills but left him with challenges in processing language and, at times, articulating words.
“A super PAC associated with Donald Trump started airing a new television ad Wednesday in Pennsylvania that highlights Fetterman’s post-stroke speech issues and suggesting the Democrat ‘just isn’t right.’”
“I wanted to cry. It was very difficult to watch,’’ said Larry Ceisler, a Democrat and statewide public-affairs consultant in Philadelphia, who supports Fetterman.
See: Who’s giving to Dr. Oz as he seeks to represent Pennsylvania? Not many Pennsylvanians.
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David Axelrod, a top Democratic strategist who led both of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, said on Twitter
that Fetterman failed on his primary debate goal: “Fetterman needed to show he’s sufficiently recovered.”
An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.
More news about the Fetterman-Oz race:
Fetterman suggests Oz runs for Senate in Vermont instead of Pennsylvania because all he ‘can do is talk about Bernie Sanders’
Fetterman and Oz focus on abortion during pair’s only Pennsylvania Senate debate
Fetterman: In January, I will be ‘much better’ following stroke but ‘Dr. Oz is still going to be a fraud’
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