Earlier in the race, the Oz campaign repeatedly mocked Mr Fetterman about his health. But at a Wednesday campaign event in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, as he appeared with Nikki R. Haley, the former United Nations ambassador, Dr. Oz sought to remain firmly focused on public safety issues, consistent with Republican efforts to tar Mr. Fetterman as radically anti-law enforcement, a message he vehemently rejected.
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“Last night’s debate focused on my desire to bring balance to Washington, a desire to bring left and right together, on issues that are bipartisan in their very nature,” Dr. Oz said.
Still, Dr. Oz’s allies aren’t as sensitive to Mr. Fetterman’s health. A new ad from a super PAC affiliated with former President Donald J. Trump says the Pennsylvania Democrat “just isn’t right.”
During the debate, Mr. Fetterman tried to reposition his struggles as a symbol of his courage, part of his mark as a tattooed former mayor of a battered steel town who can relate to working-class Pennsylvanians. . His campaign had sought to lower expectations ahead of the clash, sending a note to reporters highlighting Mr. Fetterman’s challenges with auditory processing and noting that even before the stroke, debates were not his forte.
Even though some pundits and strategists argued that skipping a debate would ultimately be forgiven, Mr. Fetterman wanted to appear, campaign officials said, because he believed Pennsylvania voters deserved the opportunity to hear their candidates.
In his opening remarks, he said of the stroke, “It knocked me down, but I’m going to keep coming back up.” He added: “This campaign is, for me, about fighting for all those in Pennsylvania who have been overthrown, who must rise up and fight for all the forgotten communities throughout Pennsylvania who have also been overthrown who must keep for get up. »
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