WASHINGTON — During a focus group in Pennsylvania this week, swing voters were shown videos of Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman speaking at a series of events since his stroke in May. According to two people familiar with the reaction given to Democratic operatives, the consensus is that persuasive voters believe Fetterman is better suited to serve and sharper. did.
But the fact that Democrats are asking voters about Fetterman’s health comes as the candidate solidifies support among party followers, ramps up his public schedule, and prepares for Oct. 25. , suggesting that at least some concerns remain about whether it will affect the tightening race.A debate with Republican rival Mehmet Oz.
Four months after his stroke, Fetterman has not released his medical records. During most of the summer as he recovered, he made few public appearances. He agreed to his one debate showdown with Oz. Oz lags behind in the polls, accusing him of further avoiding debates to cover up his illness.
Fetterman says his main challenge is a lingering “auditory processing” problem. That means you can have a hard time choosing which sounds to listen to, especially in noisy environments.
Earlier this month, Republican Senator Pat Toomey, who retired after two terms and endorsed Oz, questioned whether Democrats could function in the Senate.
“As someone who has been in the Senate for nearly 12 years, I understand how the place works,” Toomey said on Sept. 6. If he can’t engage with the press, if he can’t engage with his colleagues, he can’t do his job. ”
Democrats argue that Oz is pursuing a risky strategy. Because Fetterman’s abilities are becoming increasingly apparent at rallies, small-group campaign events, and one-on-one interactions. Additionally, Oz’s attack on the health of stroke patients daunted voters, and some of the focus group participants supported this conclusion.
“I was in Scranton with him on Saturday — he had 1,000 people! There’s not a lot of Senate elections to do… connections with voters.” That connection is so strong. The other side is trying to break it, but they don’t have the same connection, so they’re really in trouble. is the purpose of the race.”
There are many pressing policy issues for Pennsylvania voters, from the economic situation to abortion and crime. But Oz has confirmed that Fetterman’s health issues will remain a top topic in political conversations. You have a chance to resolve these concerns with a high-stakes campaign that may decide
“John has effectively communicated with the people of Pennsylvania and is running one of the best Senate campaigns in the country,” said Fetterman Advisor Rebecca Katz, a former Senate leadership aide. I was. “After he has four more months to recover, there’s no need to speculate as to whether he can be an effective leader in January. He’s effective now.”
Two incumbent senators, Ben Ray Luhan (DN.M.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland), had a stroke this year and returned to work.
Brooke Hatfield, Associate Director of Health Care Services for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, an advocacy group for professionals and scientists working in the field of communication assistance, describes the challenges of auditory processing in stroke patients as: For example, I know the language, but I don’t speak it every day.
But she added that auditory processing issues don’t affect decision-making or problem-solving, and said staff and technology (such as closed captioning, which Fetterman now uses) would help the senator.
“There is a lot of support available for people with communication differences,” said Hatfield. “I can’t think of any reason why someone with communication problems… can’t do what they need to do.”
Earlier this summer, Pennsylvania Democrats privately voiced concerns about Fetterman’s health and lack of transparency, but Fetterman appears to have allayed their fears. It tied around a message that emphasized the size of the crowd, emphasized the bond with voters, and pointed to Oz’s New Jersey roots.
Still, the race appears to have ended in Keystone State. In his recent CBS News poll, Fetterman put Oz ahead of him by 52% to 47%. A wake-up call/Mullenberg University poll released Thursday showed Fetterman leading Oz by 49% to 44%.
A CBS investigation revealed Oz’s persistent vulnerability within the Republican Party. Independents are evenly split between his two candidates, 49% each, while 13% of his Republicans said they would vote for Fetterman over Oz only Democrats he was 5%).
Rep. Mike Kelley (R-Pa.) lamented the ugly Republican nomination race that tarnished Oz’s image.
“No one has beaten Republicans in primaries more than other Republicans,” he said, adding that Oz’s biggest problem is “probably the Republicans who say, ‘I don’t know if he’s a real Republican.'” added.
But operatives from both parties think Republicans are back in Oz and the competition is getting tougher in recent weeks because the battle is for traditional swing voters.
Oz spokeswoman Brittany Yanick said in an email that internal polls for the campaign resonated with Fetterman’s weaknesses.
“John Fetterman’s lead in the Senate election has evaporated as Dr. Oz talks to voters — Republicans, Democrats, independents — who want to see a change from past failed policies. “Jon Fetterman’s whole campaign has been frankly disappointing on two fronts: his health and his support for getting convicted murderers back on the streets.” I could not do it.”
A CBS poll conducted Sept. 6-12 found between 59% and 41% of voters said Fetterman was in good enough health to hold public office. was 45%.
This helps explain why Republicans are divided over how much to focus on Fetterman’s health. are vulnerable to crime and too oblivious to economic issues.
With the exception of Toomey, Republicans across the country have avoided direct allegations that Mr. Fetterman is ineligible to serve in the Senate. suggests that it should be moved.
Senator Rick Scott of Florida, chair of the Republican campaign division, said when asked if Fetterman had the necessary skills to do the job. “And he must also open up about his radical policies of wanting to release his third of the state’s criminals and legalize all drugs.”
Democrats say Oz’s strategy is dangerous because some voters find doctors attacking stroke victims unsightly.
State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta is one of Fetterman’s rivals for the Democratic nomination. Ever since I gathered around himin an interview, he believes Oz’s attack on Fetterman’s health displayed a “tepidity” that alienated voters.
Kenyatta added that he has been encouraged by what he has seen and heard from Fetterman since he resumed his campaign.
“It was very scary for a lot of people,” Kenyatta said of the stroke. I think people are happy with what they’ve spent.”
Andy Harkrich, chairman of the Mercer County Democratic Party in western Pennsylvania, who hosted Fetterman at a rally in late August, said the lieutenant governor seemed to be recovering well.
“If he has any issues, it’s light,” said Herklich, who gathered with Fettermann backstage. “But if you want to talk about mental, I mean, he’s still very sharp. He reminded me of what he said before. I think he’s fine.”
The question is whether her fellow Pennsylvanians will feel the same way on November 8th.