Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman made some contradictory remarks about abortion at a Saturday campaign rally at Temple University in Philadelphia attended by President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama.
Fetterman, who suffered a stroke nearly six months ago, continues to have auditory processing and speech issues because of it.
“And also, of course, codifying Roe v. Wade. I run on Roe v Wade,” Fetterman told the crowd at the rally. It’s at this point that Fetterman’s slurred speech caused some confusion.
“I celebrate the demise of Roe v. Wade. That’s the choice that we have between us, in front of us. This is one of the biggest races in this nation,” Fetterman appeared to say.
Some Fetterman supporters are claiming he said “Oz celebrates the demise of Roe v. Wade,” but it’s difficult to tell. Even if that’s what he did say, the confused looks on the faces of his supporters, as well as their muted and awkward response, was noticeable.
You can watch the clip below and decide for yourself:
This is a VERY LOW ENERGY crowd for John Fetterman pic.twitter.com/uMracz9teT
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) November 5, 2022
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, sending the contentious issue of abortion back to the states.
In his speech, Fetterman addressed abortion prior to his verbal slur, going after his Republican opponent in the race, Dr. Mehmet Oz.
“Abortion rights is all on the ballot right now,” he said. “Oz believed that local political officials should be the person making those kind of choices. That choice comes between a woman and their doctors. And that’s what I’m always going to fight for.”
The two men clashed on abortion during their one and only debate on Oct. 26 that, beyond highlighting the candidates’ different policy prescriptions on a variety of issues, was largely seen as having exposed Fetterman’s health problems.
In the debate, Oz was asked if abortion should be banned with exceptions.
He responded by saying he doesn’t want the federal government involved in abortion laws.
“I want women, doctors, local political leaders, letting the democracy that’s always allowed our nation to thrive to put the best ideas forward, so states can decide for themselves,” Oz said.
Fetterman’s campaign focused on Oz’s phrasing and used it against him in an advertisement released a day after their debate.
Fetterman’s attempt to capitalize on any advantage doesn’t appear to have worked, as multiple polls have had Oz owning a slight edge. Even the largest Oz skeptics would have to admit that, at the very least, this race is a dead heat.
RCP: Insider Advantage, Trafalgar, Susquehanna and Emerson are among most accurate 2016-2020 multi state pollsters
PA SENATE FINAL POLLING:
⦿ Trafalgar: Dr. Oz +2 (48/46)
⦿ Emerson: Dr. Oz +1 (48/47)
⦿ Susquehanna: Dr. Oz +1 (48/47)
⦿ Insider Adv: Dr. Oz +2 (48/46) pic.twitter.com/isc2lcQxaE
— InteractivePolls (@IAPolls2022) November 6, 2022
Those who watched the debate couldn’t help but notice that Fetterman struggled at times to respond to the moderators’ questions, even with the assistance of a closed captioning device, raising further questions about his fitness to hold political office.
“Hi, goodnight everyone,” Fetterman said during his opening remarks, before addressing his health. “Let’s also talk about the elephant in the room: I had a stroke. [Oz] never let me forget that.”
Asked to clarify his position on fracking, Fetterman gave a halting, meandering response that was difficult to decipher.
“I do support fracking – I don’t, I don’t – I support fracking, and I do support fracking,’ he answered.
During the debate, Fetterman demurred on releasing his full medical records to the public, citing a note from his doctor saying he is fit to serve.
Oz has faced his own challenges in the campaign, with critics attacking him for his association with former President Donald Trump, but also pointing to his former career as a daytime television star, claiming he pushed and gave a platform to controversial medical advice.
Neither Fetterman nor Oz will have to worry about polls or perception for much longer. The 2022 midterms will take place on Tuesday, and shortly thereafter, Pennsylvania will know who its newest senator will be.