(CBrief) – The campaign for the Pennsylvania Senate just got hit with an earthquake and the Democrats are going to be hit with the aftershock.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the hometown newspaper of Democrat Senate candidate John Fetterman, has endorsed Republican Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz. The newspaper said that Oz was the “better bet for Pennsylvania” and cast doubts on Fetterman’s ability to serve as senator due to his recent stroke and his debate performance.
“During Tuesday’s debate, after hundreds of thousands of votes had already been cast, voters finally learned something about where the candidates stood. They learned, among other things, that Mr. Oz opposes federal intervention in abortion rights, and Mr. Fetterman supports the broader Constitutional guarantees provided by the overturned Roe v. Wade decision. They learned Mr. Fetterman supports a federally mandated $15-an-hour minimum wage, and Mr. Oz wants market forces to raise wages. They learned both candidates support fracking. They also learned both men are politicians, as they ducked and dodged questions about why they had changed their minds on fracking,” the editorial board said.
“Neither candidate has experience as a U.S. senator. Given the lack of substance during the campaign, many voters will have to make a leap of faith on Nov. 8.
“We believe Mr. Oz is the better bet for Pennsylvania,” it said.
The board cited significant concerns about Fetterman.
Mr. Fetterman’s health — he suffered a serious stroke in May — is not the issue. His lack of transparency, however, in refusing to release his medical records is troubling. It suggests an impulse to conceal and a mistrust of the people. All candidates for a major elected office should release their medical records, as did Mr. Oz. If you want privacy, don’t run for public office.
Mr. Fetterman’s life experience and maturity are also concerns. He has lived off his family’s money for much of his life. That has allowed him to do some good things, including mentoring disadvantaged young people and working to improve community policing and economic development in Braddock. That work, along with his six-foot-eight frame, shaved head, and tattoos, attracted national media attention. Still, Mr. Fetterman, despite his hoodies and shorts, has little experience in holding real jobs or facing the problems of working people.
In 2013, as the mayor of Braddock, Mr. Fetterman, after hearing gunshots, pulled a shotgun on an unarmed Black jogger. It was, we believe, an honest mistake. Still, it’s troubling that Mr. Fetterman never apologized for it. And during Tuesday’s debate, confronted with his 2018 statement that he didn’t support fracking, Mr. Fetterman still said, with a straight face, that he always supported fracking.
Fetterman had difficulty speaking during the debate and his campaign blamed the closed-captioning system provided for him as being “delayed” and “filled with errors.” Nexstar’s communications chief said both candidates were given a chance to test the system twice — but Fetterman chose to only do one rehearsal. Fetterman is still recovering from a stroke he suffered in May.
The host of the debate responded to the Fetterman campaign with fire, knocking down their excuses and stating the system worked as expected.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. Fetterman is now criticizing the closed captioning process employed by Nexstar during tonight’s debate,” Nexstar communications chief Gary Weitman said in a statement.
Beyond that, Fetterman’s debate performance was so bad that many on both sides of the political aisle are criticizing him.
“Why the hell did Fetterman agree to this?” a Democrat lawmaker and supporter of Fetterman said to Axios. “This will obviously raise more questions than answers about John’s health.”
Leland Vittert, a NewsNation host, said “the biggest issue was John Fetterman’s health and his ability to comprehend speech, and to then speak coherently on the issues of the day.”
“Everyone is nervous. I’ve traveled everywhere. Fetterman is a deep concern. And this debate will only increase it,” a Pennsylvania Democrat official said.
“It’s sad to see John Fetterman struggling so much. He should take more time to allow himself to fully recover,” Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, whose spot in the Senate the two men are campaigning to get, said on CNN.
“I wished Fetterman was in a better place to clap back. Overall, I argue it wasn’t great for us but still a draw. Remember in these next few weeks that Oz’s campaign is spending tens of millions of dollars against a man with a major medical condition,” one Democrat said in support of Fetterman.
A poll taken by the network that aired the debate showed that 82 percent of respondents believe Oz won the debate.