Fetterman says stroke problems don’t slow down a ‘normal’ campaign

Four months later stroke Described as a “near-death experience”, Lieutenant Colonel John Fetterman of Pennsylvania admitted lingering problems with his speech and hearing sometimes caused speech distortions. He relied on closed captioning or the staff’s help to smooth his interactions with voters and reporters as he ran for the Senate.

But in one of the most extensive interviews since suffering a stroke in May, Mr. Fetterman said he was perfectly capable of handling the rigors of a campaign that could decide the balance of power in the Senate. American Institute. He describes driving his kids to school, walking a few miles a day, and rapidly improving his auditory processing – while keeping abreast of his rival, the famous TV doctor Mehmet Oz , who leads in polls and campaigns mocked Mr. Fetterman’s health challenges.

“I’m running a completely normal campaign,” Fetterman said in a 40-minute interview with The New York Times, conducted by video Tuesday. He added at another point, “I’m getting better and better and I’m living a completely normal life.”

Indeed, Mr. Fetterman’s campaign seems increasingly normal in many ways.

The candidate, whose personality-oriented political style inspired a abnormal level of fandom for a hopeful Senate, speaking at hoarse the riots, jokes about his opponents at private funds and makes occasional news media appearances. His one-time Democratic Party opponents turned to show a united front with their party’s candidate. Several Democratic officials who interacted closely with Fetterman recently also said they were encouraged by his progress. On Wednesday, he pledged to argue with Dr Oz at the end of next month.

In other respects, however, conflicts over health and transparency have shaped the competition to a remarkable degree, fueled by attacks from Backed by Trump Dr. Oz and fellow Republicans promote outdoor clips of Mr. Fetterman – and by the reality of Mr. Fetterman’s personal circumstances.

He stroke on the Friday before the May primaries, though he waited until Sunday to reveal that. On Official Day, he had a pacemaker and defibrillator implanted, which his campaign described at the time as a standard procedure that would help address “the underlying cause of stroke.” his stroke, atrial fibrillation.” In statement In June, his doctor said he also has a serious heart condition called cardiomyopathy.

“We’ve never hidden any health issues,” Fetterman said in Tuesday’s interview.

Those issues have clearly shaped the way Mr. Fetterman operates today. He did not tend to take questions from the news media at his events, as opposed to his approach shortly before his stroke. He’s still using closed captioning to conduct video chats, as he did in Tuesday’s interview. And in a number of appearances over the last month, he has slurred a few words, an issue he has admitted to.

At a Labor day event last week, he had to restart a sentence from time to time, and he promised to “defend the union way of life in Jersey – sorry, in DC,” after he sought to make Dr. Oz more comfortable there. New Jersey, longtime main residencethan in Pennsylvania.

For in-person appearances, Mr. Fetterman sometimes believes in let the staff member repeat the questions that he can hardly hear the background noise.

Many voters showed no difficulty: A CBS News/YouGov . poll released this week showed that 59 percent of registered Pennsylvania voters surveyed believe Mr. Fetterman is well enough to serve.

On Wednesday, his campaign said he had taken neurocognitive tests, which included two: the Saint Louis University Mental State Test, taken on Jan. July 14 and Repeat Pin for Neuropsychiatric Status Assessment, or RBANS, performed Wednesday morning. The campaign said his score on the St. Louis is 28 out of 30. That score is typical for people with at least a high school education.

His score on RBANS is in the normal range for his age, according to his campaign.

Dr. Lee Schwamm, a stroke specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital, says stroke patients often undergo a variety of neurocognitive tests, including brief ones administered by a therapist. language performance and cognitive assessment lasting hours.

Dr Schwamm found Mr Fetterman’s scores reassuring but added that they “did not rule out the possibility that his performance was lower than it was before the stroke”.

However, Dr. Schwamm said, Mr. Fetterman’s emphasis on cognitive tests acts as a bias towards people who have had a stroke. “It’s playing on the fear that a stroke leaves him vulnerable, weak, incapacitated,” he said. “Judge the guy based on his achievements.”

Mr Fetterman’s campaign said he continued to take all of the medications he was prescribed, including the blood thinner rivaroxaban. The campaign also says he has not had a stroke or bleeding since the stroke.

Mr. Fetterman’s campaign did not provide his doctors for interviews and attempts to reach them independently were unsuccessful. Dr. Ramesh Chandra of Cardiology Alliance signed the letter june about Mr. Fetterman’s heart condition. Chandra’s office said medical privacy laws forbid him from discussing patients without their permission.

Mr. Fetterman returned to the campaign trail last month with a splashy rally in Erie, Pa. He’s hosted a number of major campaign events since then, including a big one on Sunday, when, The Philadelphia Inquirer notes, “he stumbles on very few words compared to previous speeches.”

Counting on his campaign, he has organized more than two dozen fundraisers since his stroke, conducted dozens of political meetings both in person and via video, and hosted or attended a number of events. public event. Even in appearances when he has moments of pause, he can be a high-energy person, sometimes applying rhythm of an indie manga about Dr. Oz. He has also used his personal health challenges to engage with voters, at events that ask for help from people who have had health problems in their families.

“Who has someone, maybe you personally, who has had a big, big health challenge? OK, okay, what about your parents? “Mr. Fetterman say on sunday. “I’m so sorry. I mean, I definitely have. And I hope, I really hope for each of you, that you haven’t had a doctor in your life making fun of. “

When asked for comment, Barney Keller, an Oz campaign consultant, said that the Fetterman campaign “wasn’t transparent at all about his health challenges.”

Representative Mary Gay Scanlon, a Pennsylvania Democrat who attended the rally and was a fundraiser with Fetterman on Sunday, said he had strong exchanges at the private event.

“There are no closed captions,” Ms. Scanlon said. “He’s asking questions and has a sense of humor and is absolutely what one would hope for in the next senator from Pennsylvania.”

Mr. Fetterman’s health problems have increased in recent weeks as Dr. Oz use the issue of participating in the debate arrive question Mr. Fetterman fitness to serve. Mr Fetterman’s campaign on Wednesday said he would debate October 25, two weeks before Election Day, noting that it had held conversations with several broadcasters to determine how deal with his lingering hearing challenges.

Shanin Specter, a Philadelphia attorney and son of the late Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, said in an interview that some voters might consider one argument not enough.

“Recent signs of consent for a debate by the end of October may be seen by voters as too little and too late, especially for those voting by mail,” said Specter. supporters of candidates of both parties, said. He said at another point, “He didn’t do a lot of campaigning. The movie he made was not guaranteed. His drip, lack of candor about his affairs was corrosive. “

Specter said he supports the Democratic candidate for governor, Josh Shapiro, but is not entering the Senate race.

If he wins, Fetterman, 53, will be much younger than many leaders in Washington, including President Biden (79), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (82) and some of October US senators, some of whom have faced their scrutiny sharp intellect.

“Targets for John keep moving. John is already about 80% healthier and more active in the Senate, and he is getting better every day,” said Rebecca Katz, senior adviser to the Fetterman campaign.

Senator Ben Ray Luján, a New Mexico Democrat, who stroke earlier this year, has been in touch with Mr. Fetterman since he became ill and says he has no doubt that Mr. Fetterman can handle the office’s inquiries.

“If someone wants to see what a stroke survivor looks like, they can look at me,” the senator said, noting his participation in an all-night voting session. “He is strong. He is working. He is connecting to components. He will continue to do that. “

For his part, Mr. Fetterman said that the fear about his health gave him a new perspective.

“I was faced with the thought that this might have ended my life when I had three young children,” he said. “That’s 10 times harder than whatever I’m dealing with, dealing with, right now.”

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