Fetterman makes a closely watched return to the Pennsylvania campaign trail

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On Friday, Fetterman’s appearance was closely watched by leaders and strategists on both sides. The Pennsylvania contest between Fetterman and celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz is widely regarded as the best chance for Democrats in the country to flip a seat in the Senate. For the GOP, the seat now occupied by Republican Sen. Pat Tommy It is important to get a majority.

Fetterman sought to defuse tensions at the rally by opening his speech with a sarcastic line about his opponent’s attacks. Oz criticized Fetterman for not appearing in public since his stroke, and issued a press release Thursday that read, “91 days since Fetterman left his basement.”

“Wait, are we in Erie?” Fetterman joked, “1,400 people in my basement.”

Fetterman, wearing his trademark black Carhartt hoodie, attacked Oz as a rich carpet badger at the rally. He also sought to play up his Pennsylvania roots, with his employees handing out yellow, Fetterman-branded towels inspired by the “terrible towel” of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He stood in front of a sign on the stage that read “Every County Every Vote,” his campaign’s motto.

Fetterman has made Oz’s New Jersey ties a major theme of his Senate bid. Even after recovering from a stroke, Fetterman received positive headlines on social media for trolling Oz, which included asking New Jersey reality TV star Snooki to record a video, In which it was said that “Jersey will not forget you.” Oz lived in New Jersey for decades until recently, although he attended school and married in Pennsylvania.

“He’s a New Jersey resident. He doesn’t live here,” Fetterman said. “That’s not about us. He doesn’t care about us.”

In a statement, Oz’s communications director, Brittany Yannick, said, “John Fetterman refuses to be honest with Pennsylvania or the press about his radical policies and his history of being a no-show to the Commonwealth.” According to Oz’s team, Republicans have held more than 140 campaign-related events since June.

“Dr. Mehmet Oz is campaigning in the Commonwealth, listening to and sharing the concerns of those in need, and showing up for the people of Pennsylvania, unlike John Fetterman,” Yannick said. “Pennsylvanians deserve an answer from Fetterman now. It’s been too long.”

On Friday, Fetterman appeared physically fit and spoke mostly without any problems. However, at times his speech was somewhat stilted.

In interviews with reporters, Fetterman has said that he is physically and mentally capable of withstanding the rigors of a Senate campaign, and his doctor has said that he will be able to serve long enough to follow his orders. Should be. But Fetterman has admitted that he sometimes strays from his words and has trouble hearing as he is recovering.

Fetterman spoke at the rally for 10 minutes and took no questions from the news media. He has only had two interviews with reporters since his stroke.

By holding the event on a Friday evening in Erie, Fetterman was able to campaign in one of the state’s major Belvedere counties—and also re-introduce himself to voters in a time and place where news coverage was less high-wattage. will have capacity. In a major city during the week.

“He’s going to Erie because it’s Erie — as Broadway as you can get in Pa,” said Christopher Nichols, a Pennsylvania-based GOP consultant before the event. “So if that flops it will be in the smallest media market in the state.”

Fetterman said on Friday that taking Erie is the key to his campaign’s success: “If you can’t win Erie County, you can’t win Pennsylvania.”

Fetterman has been getting back on the campaign trail since last month, when he traveled to the Philadelphia area to participate in three private fundraisers. He has since gone to two additional in-person big-money events.

Despite his absence from the trail, Fetterman has led Oz in both voting and fundraising. A recent Fox News poll found him 11 percentage points ahead of Oz.

Fetterman boasted about the turnout, saying he would campaign like he was behind.

“Have you seen some polls? Some of them are seven, eight, nine, ten, even 15 points up.” “We’re always going to run like we’re always under five points.”

Fetterman reiterated his campaign promise to be the “51st vote” for the Democratic agenda, and eliminated the filibuster for “getting some stuff for America.”

Oz on Friday sought to keep the pressure on Fetterman by calling for him to agree to five debates five hours before his rally. Fetterman’s campaign dismissed the petition as “an obvious and pathetic attempt to change the subject”. Fetterman’s aides said they would argue, but did not provide specifics.

According to Fetterman’s employees, about 1,400 people attended the event on Friday.

“Do you think Dr. Oz can fill a room like this?” The rally asked Fetterman, who said he got three times more votes in Erie County than in Oz.

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