Fetterman’s appearance on Friday was closely watched by leaders and strategists from both parties. The Pennsylvania contest between Fetterman and famed doctor Mehmet Oz is widely seen as the nation’s best chance for Democrats to flip a Senate seat. For the GOP, retain the seat now occupied by the Republican senator. Pat Toomey is essential to regain the majority.
Fetterman sought to reduce tension at the rally by opening his speech with a sarcastic line about his opponent’s attacks. Oz slammed Fetterman for not appearing in public since his stroke and issued a press release on Thursday that read, “91 days since Fetterman left his basement.”
“Wait, are we in Erie? Fetterman said, joking about having “1,400 people in my basement.”
Fetterman, wearing his black Carhartt hoodie, assaulted Oz at the rally as a wealthy rug bagger. He also sought to showcase his Pennsylvania roots, with his team handing out Fetterman-branded yellow towels modeled after the Pittsburgh Steelers’ “Terrible Towel.” He stood in front of an onstage sign reading “Every County, Every Vote,” his campaign motto.
Fetterman has made Oz’s ties to New Jersey a major theme of his Senate bid. Even though he was sidelined while recovering from a stroke, Fetterman received positive headlines for trolling Oz on social media, including enlisting the reality TV star of New Jersey Snooki to record a video saying “Jersey won’t forget you”. Oz lived in New Jersey for decades until recently, although he attended school and married in Pennsylvania.
“He’s a resident of New Jersey. He doesn’t live here,” Fetterman said. “He doesn’t care about us. He doesn’t care about us.
In a statement, Brittany Yanick, director of communications for Oz, said “John Fetterman refuses to be honest with Pennsylvanians or the press about his radical policies and past no-shows for the Commonwealth.” According to the Oz team, the Republican has hosted more than 140 campaign-related events since June.
“Dr. Mehmet Oz campaigns throughout the Commonwealth, listens to and shares the concerns of people he meets, and stands for Pennsylvanians unlike John Fetterman,” Yanick said. “Pennsylvanias deserve answers from Fetterman now. been far too long.
On Friday, Fetterman appeared in good physical health and mostly spoke without any issues. Sometimes, however, his speech was somewhat interrupted.
In interviews with reporters, Fetterman said he was physically and mentally capable of withstanding the rigors of a Senate campaign, and his doctor said he should be able to serve as long as he followed his orders. But Fetterman acknowledged he sometimes stumbles over his words and struggles to hear as he continues to recover.
Fetterman spoke for 10 minutes at the rally and did not take any questions from the media. He has only done two interviews with reporters since his stroke.
By hosting the event Friday night in Erie, Fetterman was able to campaign in one of the state’s key flagship counties — and also reintroduce himself to voters at a time and place where news coverage is less. powerful than it would be. in a big city during the week.
“The reason he’s going to Erie is because it’s Erie — as far from Broadway as you can get in Pennsylvania,” Christopher Nicholas, a Pennsylvania-based GOP consultant, said before the event. “So if he fails, it will be in the smallest media market in the state.”
Fetterman said Friday that wearing Erie was key to his campaign’s success: “If you can’t win Erie County, you can’t win Pennsylvania.”
Fetterman has resumed campaigning since last month, when he traveled to the Philadelphia area to attend three private fundraisers. Since then, he’s gone to two more big-budget events in person.
Despite his absence from the track, Fetterman led Oz in both polls and fundraising. A recent Fox News survey found him ahead of Oz by 11 percentage points.
Fetterman bragged about the ballot, adding that he would campaign like he was late regardless.
“Have you seen some of the polls? Some of them seven, eight, nine, ten, even 15 points,” he said. “We’re still going to race like we’re still five points behind.”
Fetterman reiterated his campaign promise to be the “51st vote” for the Democratic agenda and to eliminate the filibuster to “get things done for America.”
Oz sought to keep the pressure on Fetterman on Friday by calling on him to accept five hours of debate before his rally. Fetterman’s campaign dismissed the plea as “an obvious and pathetic attempt to change the subject.” Fetterman’s aides said he would debate, but did not provide details.
According to Fetterman staff, nearly 1,400 people attended the event on Friday.
“Do you think Dr. Oz can fill a room like this?” asked Fetterman at the rally, who said he received three times as many votes in Erie County as Oz.