John Fetterman’s health sparks contentious debate in final stretch

A few minutes into his rally, John Fetterman told the crowd he wanted to address the “elephant in the room.”

“I had a stroke, you all know that,” the Democratic Senate nominee said here Saturday. “I gotta give a loco — excuse me — local shout out to Penn Medicine for saving my life.”

Fetterman, 53, explained that sometimes he stumbles over his words and has “auditory processing” issues. He asked rallygoers to raise their hand if they or someone they love had dealt with a serious health issue. Nearly every hand went up.

Since he suffered a stroke in May days before the primary, Fetterman and his allies have sought to make his recovery a lesson in empathy. The campaign has shared messages from people who say Fetterman inspired them to prioritize their own health. After his event Saturday, Fetterman knelt and spoke with a woman in a wheelchair who had also suffered a stroke.

Now, in the final weeks of one of the most consequential and competitive Senate races in the country, Fetterman’s health has become a focal point for both campaigns.

The Fetterman campaign has declined repeated requests to interview his doctors or review updated medical information beyond what it has previously released. The last medical information from a doctor made public by the Fetterman campaign came in a letter from his cardiologist on June 3, explaining that surgery conducted 17 days earlier to install a defibrillator was to treat a previously undisclosed diagnosis of cardiomyopathy, and not for atrial fibrillation as the campaign originally claimed.

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