John Fetterman, the Democratic Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, returned to the campaign trail Friday night for the first time since his stroke three months ago.
“My life almost ended three months ago. True “Fetterman stated in Erie. I’m glad to be with you tonight.
Since his stroke in May, Fetterman has run virtually exclusively online.
Fetterman claimed he was told of his cardiac problems in 2017 but ignored it. Fetterman developed cardiomyopathy after his stroke and was given a pacemaker.
“Gisele saved my life,” Fetterman said of his wife, who introduced him and stood by his side Friday night. He praised the audience.
Fetterman’s campaign claimed great summer fundraising statistics and early TV advertising despite his absence.
AdImpact says the campaign has spent $5.2 million on commercials since the primary, including $1.1 million on digital.
Dr. Mehmet Oz’s digital ad spending is less than $20,000. National Republican Senatorial Committee commercials cost $4 million.
Fetterman has been hosting meetings and campaigning on social media, posting problems, photos, memes, and videos, frequently from Oz’s years as a TV personality.
Twitter and Facebook have shared several pointed videos.
His campaign thinks his internet campaigning is successful because he’s real and entertaining.
Fetterman called Oz a New Jersey resident on Friday.
Fetterman: “He’s not local.” “He’s uncaring.”
Fetterman kept his statement short but indicated he’d want to be Democrats’ 51st vote in the 50-50 Senate.
He attacked the minimum wage, Roe v. Wade, and the filibuster.
Voters queued up outside Friday night’s event, over three months before Election Day.
“He recognises our issues in Pennsylvania,” said Republican Juan Duran at the event. “No outsiders for the Senate,”
Top subjects include abortion, voting, and even Trump. 1,355 people lined up to hear him speak, according to his campaign.
Before his stroke, Fetterman campaigned in deep-red conservative communities. He won all 67 primaries.
Strategically, he chose Erie for his first in-person campaign trip. Northwest Pennsylvania is a bellwether for the rest of the state.
Biden barely won Erie county and the state in 2020, while Trump narrowly won in 2016 and the state.
In 2018, Democratic Governor Tom Wolf and Republican Senator Pat Toomey both won Erie County.
In his first TV interview after the stroke, Fetterman told CBS Pittsburgh he’d be “everywhere” The Erie rally represents the start of Fetterman’s gradual return to the campaign road, with increased action in the autumn.
Fetterman’s campaign has been mostly online, but he’s been polling ahead of Trump-backed Oz since the primary.
Real Clear Politics gives him an 8-point lead.
As Election Day approaches and more people pay attention, Republican leaders anticipate the difference to shrink.
Oz visited many times this summer. He spoke with military men and veterans at an American Legion Post and visited a tool manufacturer.