ERIE, Pa. — Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic nominee in Pennsylvania for Senate, returned to his campaign trail Friday evening after suffering a stroke mid-May.
As he addressed a cheering crowd, Mr. Fetterman was at times both emotional and brash. There were both older voters, including at least two who voted for Donald J. Trump in 2016, and a young lady in a sparkling sash who stated that she chose to spend her 19th Birthday at his rally.
While acknowledging the health scare that he had, Mr. Fetterman also lashed out at Dr. Mehmet O, his Republican opponent and celebrity physician. He pledged to fight for every county and every vote.
“Tomorrow is three years ago — three months back, my life could have ended,” stated Mr. Fetterman. He spoke for approximately 11 minutes, then welcomed some guests. His voice seemed to be breaking as he said, “I just got so thankful — and I’m so fortunate.” Thank you so much for being here.
In a crucial race for control of the Senate, the rally in Erie, Pa. was held in a swing county. It was Mr. Fetterman’s first in-person campaign event for the general election. He is running against Dr. Oz who won the Republican primary. The endorsement of former President Donald J. Trump made it possible.
More coverage of the 2022 Midterm Elections
His stroke happened days before the Democratic primary in Mai and his doctor told him that he also had serious heart conditions. He said that he was “almost dead” and promised to spend time on his recovery. He spoke briefly in video clips, but initially the public did not hear much from him.
Recently, Mr. Fetterman started to appear, greeting volunteers and giving a few interviews in the local area. He also attended fund-raisers and events with senators and other Senate hopefuls. Democrats across the state are eager to see him make more public appearances. Joe Calvello, a spokesperson for Mr. Fetterman said that the “pace would be picking up” as the candidate continues raising money and plans events such as meet-and-greets.
Many people who spoke with him in recent weeks said he is energetic and eager to get back on the campaign trail. However, others stated that it was evident when he reached for a word, which was a challenge has recognized.
“I might miss a word or muddle two words together occasionally in a conversation but that’s really all I have to worry about.” a>> =””>Mr. Fetterman spoke to KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh in his first TV interview since the stroke.
Mr. Fetterman, along with his team, have tried to portray Dr. Oz as essentially a carpetbagger despite his absence from campaign trail. This casts the Republican as more at home in New Jersey, which was his longtime principal residence, than in Pennsylvania, where he claims he now lives in an area of Philadelphia.
Dr. Oz has faced some difficulties consolidating and defending his base following a bitterly divided and competitive primary earlier in the year.
He has tried to project a strong presence by posting pictures from diners — he visited Capitol Diner, Harrisburg, Pa. on Friday, his campaign stated — and criticizing Mr. Fetterman for his absence from campaign trail. , a cardiac surgeon, unveiled a website calling Mr. Fetterman “basement bum” and challenged his rival for debates. stated that the Republican had already committed to five.
Dr. Oz tweeted, “It’s now for Fetterman. “Pennsylvanians should hear from their candidates.”
Although Mr. Calvello didn’t commit to a certain number of debates, he said that Mr. Fetterman intended on debating Oz.
Dr. Oz also attempted to link Mr. Fetterman with President Biden, who has struggled to win approval ratings, as well as to Senator Bernie Sanders. Mr. Fetterman supported in 2016’s presidential primary.
As a prelude to Friday’s event, Mr. Fetterman introduced an ” official rally posters” and explained the stakes in the battle for Erie County.
“Before 2020, I said that I could know just one fact about the results and I could tell you who was going win Pennsylvania,” Mr. Fetterman stated in a statement. Pennsylvania will be won by the winner of Erie County.