John Fetterman, the Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania’s open Senate seat, has given his first interview since suffering a stroke two months ago and taking time away from the campaign trail to recuperate. The 52-year-old state lieutenant governor told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in a video call that he’s “feeling really good.”
Fetterman was hospitalized just days before the May 17 primary; nevertheless, he achieved a decisive victory, winning all 67 counties in Pennsylvania. His doctors cited atrial fibrillation, or an irregular heartbeat, as the root cause of the stroke. In a statement following the incident, Fetterman said that he had been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation back in 2017 but did not follow his doctor’s prescribed care regimen. He was released a little over a week later after doctors implanted a pacemaker with a defibrillator but has yet to return to campaigning.
In the interview, Fetterman told the Post-Gazette that he has some issues with his hearing following the stroke but that those moments are infrequent and he is working with a speech therapist. He also said that he has no problems with memory and that he’s been walking between four and five miles daily.
“I might miss a word every now and then in a conversation, or I might slur two words. Even then, I think that’s infrequent,” Fetterman said. “So I feel like we are ready to run, and that’s the only issues I have. That’s the absolute truth, 100 percent.”
Mehmet Oz, a heart surgeon and Fetterman’s Republican opponent, has already alluded to his absence on the trail, saying in a recent ad that Fetterman “can’t keep hiding from voters forever.” On his Twitter account, Oz posted a photo of a milk carton with Fetterman’s face on it, declaring him “missing.”
Fetterman said he intends to return to in-person campaigning “very soon.” Axios reported that the lieutenant governor is expected to appear at a fundraiser in Philadelphia on Thursday.
“I would never be in this if we were not absolutely, 100 percent able to run fully and to win — and we believe that we are,” he said.
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