Democratic Pennsylvania Senate candidate Lt. Gov. John Fetterman released a doctor’s note on Wednesday that claims he is “recovering well” from the May stroke that forced him off the campaign trail for three months.
Fetterman and his campaign have been cagey about the candidate’s recovery from the stroke, with surrogates — including his wife, Gisele — arguing that questions about his health constitute “ableism.” Fetterman’s Republican opponent, Mehmet Oz, called on the Democrat to debate five times before the election to prove his physical and mental fitness. Fetterman declined, agreeing instead to a single debate on Oct. 25, more than a month after Pennsylvania voters began submitting ballots.
Fetterman’s “physical exam was normal,” wrote general physician Dr. Clifford Chen, who has been Fetterman’s primary care doctor since May. “His lung exam was clear, heart rate was regular, and his strength was normal in all four extremities without any strength or coordination deficits.”
News: @JohnFetterman releases an updated medical report after a visit with his primary care doctor.
Letter via his campaign 👇 pic.twitter.com/i75J7utrR0
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) October 19, 2022
A previous doctor’s note released in June by cardiologist Dr. Ramesh Chandra revealed that Fetterman suffers from a decreased heart pump and atrial fibrillation. Chandra first diagnosed him in 2017, but Fetterman — who at the time was mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania — did not complete the recommended course of treatment. The candidate also suffers from cardiomyopathy, which necessitated a pacemaker.
Fetterman has struggled to speak in several appearances and interviews since returning to the campaign trail in August. NBC News reporter Dasha Burns, who allowed Fetterman to read her questions off a teleprompter during an interview that aired Oct. 11, said the candidate “had a hard time understanding” small talk the two engaged in. (RELATED: ‘Obviously They Want Clicks’: John Fetterman’s Wife Goes After WaPo)
“[Fetterman] spoke intelligently without cognitive deficits,” Chen wrote in the letter released Wednesday. “His speech was normal and he continues to exhibit symptoms of an auditory processing disorder which can come across as hearing difficulty. Occasional words he will ‘miss’ which seems like he doesn’t hear the word but it is actually not processed properly.”
Although Fetterman led Oz by more than five points in polling conducted throughout most the summer, the race has tightened in recent weeks amid criticism of Fetterman’s record on crime and continued questions about his health. Fetterman currently leads by 3.2 points in the RealClearPolitics average, with two recent polls conducted by The Trafalgar Group and Tony Fabrizio showing the candidates effectively tied.
“That’s good news that John Fetterman’s doctor gave him a clean bill of health. The bad news is that John Fetterman still supports releasing convicted murderers out on the streets and has zero explanation for why he didn’t pay his taxes 67 times. And now that he apparently is healthy, he can debate for 90 minutes, start taking live questions from voters and reporters, and do a second debate now too,” Oz’s campaign said in a statement.