Viewers across the political spectrum acknowledge that Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman (D) did not perform well during a key debate on Tuesday evening.
Fetterman suffered a stroke in May and since then has faced scrutiny over his readiness for the rigorous duties a senator must perform — particularly from his challenger, Republican medical doctor Mehmet Oz.
During interviews in recent months, leaders in the media — on the right and the left — have expressed concerns that candidate Fetterman sometimes struggles to understand conversations and has difficulty speaking, often misspeaks and requires conversations transcribed to a monitor to understand what is being said.
Fetterman’s recovery from a stroke is remarkable, but the impact of the stroke is still evident. According to the Daily Wire, “during the debate, Fetterman repeatedly stammered, had awkward pauses, seemed to be out of sync with what was being said, and even had outbursts which included shouting at opponent Dr. Mehmet Oz (R) during closing statements.”
After Fetterman received wide-scale criticism for his performance on Tuesday evening, his campaign pushed back on Wednesday morning, blaming the delay in some responses on a faulty captioning system.
Fetterman for Pennsylvania communications director Joe Calvello said:
“We are thrilled with John’s performance. He did remarkably well tonight – especially when you consider that he’s still recovering from a stroke and was working off of delayed captions filled with errors.” Calvello added: “John won countless exchanges, counter-punched aggressively, and pushed back on Oz’s cruelty and attacks.”
Nexstar’s Chief Communications Officer Gary Weitman took issue with Calvello’s statements, noting that “the Fetterman campaign … agreed to use the system deployed during the debate and that they did not take full advantage of practice sessions,” according to the Daily Wire.
Weitman’s extended statement on the issue reads:
“It is unfortunate that Mr. Fetterman is now criticizing the closed captioning process employed by Nexstar during tonight’s debate,” Weitman said. “Both candidates agreed to the technical set-up for the closed captioning process weeks ago, which was implemented at the request of the Fetterman campaign.
“Both candidates were offered the opportunity for two full rehearsals with the same equipment used in tonight’s debate; Mr. Fetterman chose to do only one. In fact, Nexstar’s production team went to extraordinary lengths to ensure the effectiveness of the closed captioning process, and to accommodate several last-minute requests of the Fetterman campaign.
“The closed captioning process functioned as expected during rehearsal and again during tonight’s debate. We regret that Mr. Fetterman and his campaign feel otherwise.”
The moderator was gracious during the debate, but her questions on inflation and fracking seemed to highlight the lingering effects of the stroke Fetterman suffered five months ago.
During the debate, Oz painted Fetterman as “radically left,” and seemingly rattled, Fetterman attempted to defend himself by claiming that Oz was “not being honest.”
The Daily Caller noted that the “Fetterman campaign has repeatedly lashed out at the media” when questions arise regarding the candidate’s mental fitness.
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