John Fetterman Says Debate Wasn’t ‘Easy,’ But It Was Important To Show Up

The Democrat said if “anyone wants to mock” his disability, he will continue to get back up and keep fighting.

Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman acknowledged that his debate Tuesday night against Dr. Mehmet Oz was not “easy,” but defended his decision to appear and show voters he will “absolutely” be ready to serve come January.

Fetterman, the Democratic candidate and Pennsylvania’s current lieutenant governor, made the comments Thursday night on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut,” his first television appearance since the debate against his Republican opponent. Fetterman was left with an auditory processing disorder after a stroke earlier this year, and his appearance prompted some concerns among Democrats that his halting answers could hamstring his bid for the Senate.

His doctors have cleared him for office, saying he has “no work restrictions.” But Oz spent months criticizing his opponent and took several jabs at his health during the debate Tuesday.

“I acknowledge that any debate isn’t going to be easy for somebody in recovery, we thought it was important to be there and we showed up,” Fetterman, who used screens with closed captioning during the debate, told host Joy Reid. “We’ve always showed up. …Of course it’s not going to be easy, and if anyone wants to mock that or make fun of that… It’s about getting knocked down and getting back up and fighting.”

The race, one of Democrats’ best hopes to pick up a GOP Senate seat during the midterms, is effectively deadlocked and could decide control of the chamber for the next two years.

Fetterman wouldn’t commit to releasing his full medical records during the debate Tuesday, but has stressed he will be healthy and ready to serve in Congress if he’s elected next month.

“By January I’ll be much, much better,” Fetterman said. “But Oz will still be a fraud.”

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