John Fetterman resurfaces on the campaign trail after stroke

REUTERS/Quinn Glabicki

REUTERS/Quinn Glabicki

ERIE, PA—Accompanied by two large American flags splayed on the wall behind him, Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman took to the podium Friday night for his first rally of his 2022 Senate bid, and his first stop campaign public since he suffered a stroke in May.

But amid attacks from Republican opponent Mehmet Oz about his absence on the road, and insistence that Fetterman has been holed up in a basement over the summer months during his stroke recovery, Fetterman didn’t shy away from the subject while he was talking to the crowd on Friday night.

In fact, he led with him.

Introduced by his wife, Gisele, who had fans of her own, called him a “stroke survivor” and thanked the crowd for welcoming her husband back to the trail. Without missing a beat, Fetterman stepped up to the microphone and tackled Oz’s line of rhetoric head-on.

John Fetterman wants to induct Senate opponent Dr. Oz into the New Jersey Hall of Fame

“Are we in Erie, or have I packed 1,400 people in my basement?” she joked. According to the campaign, the final attendance count was 1,355.

The Senate hopeful went on to recap his stroke experience and was visibly moved when he retold the story of his wife realizing her stroke before it was too late. “Gisele saved my life,” he said, adding that he was grateful it happened near a well-equipped health care facility, in an apparent touchstone for his position on approving access to quality health care. in all the country.

“I am so grateful. And I am so lucky. So thank you for being here tonight,” she said.

Fetterman’s return to the campaign trail marks a major turning point in the race. Forecast to be one of the most competitive races of this cycle, Democrats need every advantage they can get in Pennsylvania, including valuable face-to-face time with voters. Pennsylvania is also being targeted by national Democrats as one of their top picks, which could boost their Senate numbers or simply prevent Democrats from losing their majority.

Although Fetterman faced some criticism for not being fully transparent about the nature of his punch early on, there didn’t seem to be any love lost with his point guard on Friday.

“He has been extremely open and communicative… Things happen to human bodies. Things have happened to both of us and we’re getting in here,” Erie resident Jane Asher told The Daily Beast as she pointed to her partner.

The crowd, which lined the block to enter, was filled with black-and-white Fetterman campaign signs on cardboard. Campaign staffers supplied rally attendees with yellow and black rags imprinted with the name “Fetterman” to wave in the air, like the Pittsburgh Steelers’ signature “Terrible Towels.” Classic rock blared through speakers at the Bayfront Convention Center, a venue just off the cusp of Lake Erie.

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Looking the same as he did when he left the campaign trial three months ago, Fetterman wore his trademark hoodie and baggy pants.

The Democratic Senate hopeful didn’t mince words in describing why Erie County was his choice for his first campaign rally of the Senate cycle. A longtime Pennsylvania political figure, Erie is a compendium of everything the Fetterman campaign hopes to highlight in this cycle.

It’s a blue-collar, working-class part of the state that doesn’t vote Democrat by default. It fits perfectly into his “every county, every vote” model, a catchphrase he has used to argue that Democrats should target votes in dark red areas as much as they do in their metropolitan safe havens.

“If you can’t win Erie County, you can’t win Pennsylvania,” Fetterman told the crowd.

Only spending about 10 minutes on stage before shaking hands and taking selfies, Fetterman had another important item on the agenda: Oz.

Like his Twitter feed, which has become a constant stream of bullshit posts about the Republican challenger, Fetterman dished out one-liners about the TV doctor, asking the crowd, “Do you think Dr. Oz could fill a room like this? ”

The crowd responded resoundingly to the cry of “No”.

Asked for comment, the Oz campaign said Fetterman “refuses to be honest with Pennsylvanians or the press about his radical policies and history of not showing up for the community.”

“In the meantime, Dr. Mehmet Oz is campaigning across the Commonwealth, listening to and sharing the concerns of people he knows, and showing up for Pennsylvanians unlike John Fetterman. Pennsylvanians now deserve answers.” Fetterman. It’s been too long,” said Brittany Yanick, Director of Communications for Oz.

Fetterman also called the press, suggesting they should check how many mansions Oz owns. (It is difficult to discern exactly how many mansions Oz owns, but Oz reported $100 million in assets in your campaign file.)

Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman is out of the hospital after a stroke

John Whaley, another Erie resident, told The Daily Beast he will vote by Fetterman versus just voting against Oz. But Whaley added that he suspects some people are voting “just to keep Oz out.”

“And MAGA and ultra MAGA maniacs,” Whaley added, “we don’t need any of that.”

Mike Kurutz, another Erie Democrat, told The Daily Beast that he thinks politics doesn’t need another “entertainer,” questioning whether someone like Carrot Top could be next.

The Oz campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Fetterman’s appearance Friday night; Fetterman also did not answer questions from reporters during the event.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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