Pennsylvania Democrat U.S. Senate Candidate John Fetterman was challenged yet again in a campaign speech earlier in the week when he couldn’t differentiate between Washington D.C., New Jersey, and his home.
When he spoke to steelworkers from Pennsylvania, Fetterman had to keep correcting himself and didn’t ever get to his final thoughts on his candidacy.
“Please understand the stakes in this race. Send me to Washington, D.C.—to send—so I can work with Senator Casey. And I can champion the union way of life in Jersey—excuse me—in D.C.,” he said.
“Thank you, thank you very much, and it’s an honor,” he added. “I live eight minutes away from here, and when I leave tonight, I got three miles away. Dr. Oz in his mansion in New Jersey. You’ve got a friend and you have an ally. Send me to Washington, D.C. Thank you, steelworkers.”
The speech was another instance of many that shows his mental faculties haven't been restored to normality as he recovers from his stroke.
Mehmet Oz, Fetterman’s continues to shrink the distance between them in the race. The lieutenant governor rebuffed Oz’s requests for a debate in September, citing his recovery and accusing Oz's campaign of mocking his status as a stroke victim.
“I’m eager to put my record and my values up against Dr. Oz’s any day of the week,” Fetterman said. “As I recover from this stroke and improve my auditory processing and speech, I look forward to continuing to meet with the people of Pennsylvania.”
Christopher Borick, a professor of political science of political science at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania and pollster, said to NBC News that Fetterman must engage in a debate with Oz in the fall if he is determined to win.
“There is a degree of pressure for Fetterman to demonstrate that he’s ready to go,” said Borick. “It doesn’t mean he has to agree with everything. But he’s going to have to debate Oz this fall. I don’t think it’s highly salient in this campaign, but given Fetterman’s health situation, he has to show he’s capable of occupying this role.”
Michael Smerconish, a CNN Political analyst, agreed that Fetterman is likely to lose the race to Mehmet Oz if the latter keeps putting off debates.
“In the end, I think he’s going to have to come out and play,” said Smerconish.
“In the end, I don’t think he can win the campaign — Fetterman — by simply running an organized social media or paid media campaign,” he added.