Shapiro remains confident in Fetterman’s fitness amid run-ins with health
In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Governor Josh Shapiro dispelled an idea that he would muse a special election to replace Senator John Fetterman.
This week, the Philadelphia Inquirer touched base with Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro to discuss Senator John Fetterman’s health following a series of health scares that will require ongoing medical care.
Shapiro, who served as Attorney General while Fetterman was Lieutenant Governor and has also collaborated with him on the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, expects the newly-minted Senator to get back on his feet and “come back stronger than ever,” according to a recent interview with the Inquirer.
“He’s going to get the help that he needs (...) and do a great job for the people of Pennsylvania as their Senator for a long time,” the Governor said of his thoughts on Fetterman’s condition, which includes hospitalizations for a stroke and a treatment for depression.
The Inquirer interview is a first look into Shapiro’s viewpoint toward recent health scares that arose as Fetterman entered his freshman term and what pressure, if any, he may have received from establishment Democrats.
If Fetterman should decide to step down — a fact that Fetterman has not floated nor considered — Shapiro is then tasked to appoint an interim Senator to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the term.
Shapiro — in addition to expressing confidence in his colleague on Capitol Hill — confirmed he hadn’t been the recipient of any pressure, “and if I did, I would dismiss it immediately,” underlined Shapiro, quoted in the Inquirer.
Fetterman isn’t new to health-driven scrutiny. As the only known candidate in Pennsylvania with a visible disability, a frequent cadence of questions surrounding his ability to govern from the U.S. Senate persisted through the campaign trail.
In the Spring of 2022, Fetterman suffered a stroke that left him with a hearing impairment, and he’s since needed to utilize hearing aids and close captioning as a form of assistance during public engagements.
The former Braddock Mayor was also subject to attacks from Dr. Mehmet Oz, his Republican challenger, who said that if Fetterman “had ever eaten a vegetable in his life, then maybe he wouldn't have had a major stroke and wouldn't be in the position of having to lie about it constantly,” a top Oz spokesperson told Insider.
The Fetterman team has declined requests to release his medical records, given that his condition did not signal a cognitive impediment, and said the doctor’s evaluation was that he was “recovering well.”
But as the midterm elections tightened in October, an NBC reporter shared a personal anecdote relating to an exclusive interview with Fetterman, then a candidate for Senate, and questioned whether he was aware of the conversation.
“In small talk before the interview without captioning, it wasn't clear he was understanding our conversation,” the reporter, Dasha Burns, shared on social media.
Burns drew sharp criticism and spent the weeks after the interview fending off criticism provoked by her commentary on Fetterman’s health, which alluded to a cognitive impairment.
And in October, the tenor of the conversation peaked when Fetterman’s hearing impairment was in display during a high-stakes debate, prompting the need for closed captioning that interrupted the usual, intensely paced spirit of a political debate.
Fetterman won the Senate race by a 4% margin.
In early February, Fetterman spokesperson Joe Calvello said the Senator experienced symptoms of lightheadedness after a Democratic Senator Retreat, which took place a day after President Biden’s State of the Union Address.
Doctors at George Washington University Hospital performed numerous test and found no evidence of a seizure and “normal test results,” according to a statement released after Fetterman was discharged.
A few weeks after Fetterman’s discharge, he checked himself into Walter Reed National Military and sought treatment for clinical depression.“We’re glad John is setting an example for all of us,” Shapiro told the Inquirer.
“And we hope that his bravery will encourage people around the country who need help to seek it, too.”