NBC News correspondent Dasha Burns told MSNBC Tuesday that Democratic Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman had difficulty understanding her questions during an interview.
Burns said the production team had to set up a monitor in order for Fetterman to read her questions during an NBC News exclusive interview. Fetterman’s struggles with auditory processing issues and slurred speech resulting from a stroke he suffered in May.
“He still has lingering auditory processing issues as a result of the stroke, which means he has a hard time understanding what he’s hearing,” she said. “Now once he reads the question, he’s able to understand … He also still has some problems, some challenges with speech and I’ll say, Katy, that some of the small talk prior to the interview before the closed captioning was up and running, it did seem that he had a hard time understanding our conversations.”
Fetterman’s condition since the stroke has sparked skepticism of his fitness to serve in the U.S. Senate. After returning to the campaign trail in August, Fetterman pulled out of five scheduled debates against his Republican opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz. After pulling out of an Aug. 12 debate, Brittany Yanick, Oz’s communications director, called the Democratic candidate “a liar, a liberal, and a coward.” (RELATED: ‘Obviously They Want Clicks’: John Fetterman’s Wife Gisele Goes After WaPo)
The Washington Post editorial board questioned his mental capacity to serve after he refused to debate Oz and failed to disclose his hospitalization for two days following the stroke. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s editorial board echoed this argument, suggesting his unwillingness to debate his opponent “raises serious concerns” about his ability to serve in the U.S. Senate.
Fetterman’s campaign told the Daily Caller that Fetterman’s auditory processing issue is expected to go away and has been “transparent” in talking about his health.
“As we’ve said over and over again, John is healthy and he also still has a lingering auditory processing issue that his doctors expect will go away,” campaign spokesperson Joe Cavello said. “John has already released a letter from his cardiologist and put out a candid letter directly from himself about his stroke. He’s been transparent in talking openly about his health with local and national media, while also showing voters how this closed-caption technology helps him communicate more effectively.
“Unfortunately for Dr. Oz and the pathetic Republicans who are desperately rooting against his recovery, John is getting better every day and he is going to win this race to be Pennsylvania’s next Senator,” the statement continued. “In January, John is going to be even better — and Dr. Oz will still be a fraud.”