Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman slurred some words and stuttered in his first one-on-one interview since his near-fatal stroke in May, raising new questions about his health just weeks before Election Day.
Conceding that his stroke “changes everything,” Fetterman struggled to form words at times and admitted having some difficulty understanding spoken questions in an interview with NBC News.
“Everything about (life) is changed. Basically having a conversation with your wife to having a conversation with your children, just, you know, things — especially early, after the stroke,” Fetterman said.
The state’s lieutenant governor framed the health scare as a wake-up call for himself and said it has helped him to understand the struggles of fellow Americans.
“After having that stroke, I really understand, you know, much more kinda the challenges that Americans have day in and day out,” he said.
But the interview may raise fresh questions about Fetterman’s health and his fitness for office.
In discussing the stroke, he struggled to say the word “empathetic,” saying “emphatic” instead.
“It was just about having to be thinking more, uh, — slower — to just understand and that sometimes that’s kind of the processing that happens,” Fetterman explained.
Fetterman holds a small lead over Republican TV doctor Mehmet Oz in the race to replace retiring Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. The Pennsylvania contest is a marquee race that could determine control of the evenly divided Senate for the next two years.
Oz has hit Fetterman hard on his health woes, accusing him of dodging debates and refusing to release his health records.
The 6-foot-8 Fetterman, who campaigns in a hoodie to stress his working-class roots, counters that Oz is an out-of-touch elitist.
He’s not backing off that attack line, even using his recovery to underline the point.
“I feel like I’m gonna get better and better — every day.,” he said. “And by January, I’m going (to) be, you know, much better. And Dr. Oz is still going to be a fraud.”