Fetterman looked awkward on stage in a black suit and blue tie instead of the hoodies and shorts that have become his trademark. He regularly struggled with his sentences, took a while to process questions, and seemed to stumble over policy—perhaps more noticeably because of Oz’s TV experience and polished performance.
Nevertheless, the 53-year-old addressed his health concerns in his opening statement, telling viewers: “I had a stroke; he never let me forget that. I may be missing some words during this debate; putting two words together. It knocked me down, but I keep coming back And this campaign is all about me fighting for everyone in Pennsylvania that has ever been brought down.
Oz, on the other hand, didn’t mention his opponent’s health, instead portraying him as a leftist “radical”, accusing him of softness on crime and lashing out at his support for fracking.
However, social media users were not so forgiving, many declaring the Democrat unfit for the office.
“It’s hard for me to even comment on this debate as John Fetterman is unable to put together a coherent sentence,” one viewer posted on Twitter.
“That he is the Democratic candidate is an indictment of the Democratic party and the people around him who are supposed to love him,” said another.
Whether Tuesday night’s action shifts crucial votes remains to be seen, but Pennsylvania is a seat Democrats must win if they are to stand a chance of retaining their majority in Congress. Oz started his campaign with double digits behind Fetterman, but in recent weeks the gap has narrowed.
Hours before the debate, veteran political expert Larry Sabato told: The age and Sydney Morning Herald“Very rarely does a debate like this matter — because Fetterman’s health has become such a central theme of the campaign.”
Sabato, chief of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said, “I know people who have had strokes and there are often hearing problems that linger — but I’m not the average voter.”
“Perhaps the average voter sees him and thinks, ‘My God, he has… [assistance] and that’s the only way he can function.’ It’s not fair, but nothing about politics is fair.”
The midterm elections will take place on Nov. 8 and will determine who controls Congress — and in turn, the direction of the country for the next two years. Though Biden won’t be re-elected until 2024, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives will be contested, along with a third of the 100-member Senate, as well as 36 state governorships – the equivalent of Australia’s prime ministers.
The battle for Pennsylvania comes as the economy, the cost of living and rising inflation rates shift momentum toward Republicans in the latter part of the campaign.
Crime has also been a pressing concern, especially in New York, a deeply democratic state that has become unexpectedly competitive for Republicans in recent days.
Just as Fetterman and Oz traded barbs in Pennsylvania, so did New York Governor Kathy Hochul and Republican candidate Lee Zeldin in a tense debate.
And further south, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis took part in his re-election debate Monday night (US time), and was momentarily caught off guard when asked if he would serve a full year, or if he would support his broad-specified ambition. to run for the White House against Biden.
Such a move would potentially put DeSantis in contention with the man who pushed him into the national spotlight, Trump, who is also likely to seek his party’s presidential nomination.
‘Yes or no, Ron? Are you going to serve a full four-year term if you are re-elected as Florida governor?” Democrat candidate Charlie Crist asked at the standout moment of their debate.
Rarely lost for words, the brash Republican fell silent before finally responding to his 66-year-old opponent.
“The only worn-out old donkey I want to put out is Charlie Crist,” he said.
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