- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman got the all-clear from his doctor that he is fit to serve in office after suffering a stroke earlier this year.

The physician said Mr. Fetterman has shown “symptoms of an auditory processing disorder” from the stroke but has “no work restrictions” and “can work full duty in public office.”

Mr. Fetterman‘s health has been under the spotlight since the stroke in May and his recent uneven performances on the campaign trail have intensified speculation about his fitness for the Senate. It has also raised the stakes for his Oct. 25 debate with his Republican rival Mehmet Oz, who is gaining ground in the polls.

Looking to put the chatter to rest, the Fetterman campaign on Wednesday released a letter from his primary care physician, Dr. Clifford Chen, who said the Democrat “is recovering well from his stroke and his health has continued to improve.”

“His speech was normal and he continues to exhibit symptoms of an auditory processing disorder which can come across as hearing difficulty,” Dr. Chen said. “Occasional words he will ‘miss’ which seems like he doesn’t hear the word but it is actually not processed properly. His hearing of sound such as music is not affected.”

The doctor said that Mr. Fetterman‘s ability to communicate has “significantly improved” since he began speech therapy following the stroke.

“Overall, Lt. Gov. Fetterman is well and shows a strong commitment to maintaining good fitness and health practices,” Dr. Chen said. “He has no work restrictions and can work full duty in public office.”

Mr. Fetterman has held a consistent lead in the polls, but it has narrowed amid questions about his health and a barrage of GOP attacks casting him as soft on crime.

Still, he remains his party’s best bet of helping Democrats retain control of the upper chamber.

The nonstop focus on his health has created an even greater sense of anticipation around what happens when he climbs onto the debate stage with Mr. Oz next week.

President Biden, meanwhile, is scheduled to visit Pittsburgh on Thursday to deliver remarks on rebuilding the nation’s roads and bridges and then appear at a Philadelphia fundraiser with Mr. Fetterman.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters this week that Mr. Biden is confident Mr. Fetterman “is very much capable of doing the job.”

“The president has found him to be an impressive individual who is just as capable as always,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said.

A month away from his 80th birthday, Mr. Biden is the nation’s oldest president and no stranger to questions about his health.

Indeed, it has been a favorite topic for Republicans and has prompted some Democrats to say the party needs a new standard-bearer in 2024.

Interest in Mr. Fetterman’s well-being intensified this month after he relied on a closed-captioning device for an interview with NBC News.

When the interview aired, the NBC News reporter, Dasha Burns, said before the closed captioning started rolling that it “wasn’t clear he could understand what we were saying.”

Republicans pounced on the comments. Mr. Fetterman’s wife, Gisele Barreto Fetterman, called on NBC to issue an apology.

Voters are taking notes.

A pair of Emerson College Polling/The Hill surveys of Pennsylvania voters showed the percentage of voters that said Mr. Fetterman’s stroke will not influence their vote dropped from 68% in August to 59% in September. The percentage of voters who said the stroke makes it less likely they will back Mr. Fetterman climbed from 14% to 19%.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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