In his first major political event since suffering a stroke in May, John Fetterman appeared before a raucous crowd in Erie, Pennsylvania, on Friday where he wasted no time directly confronting the issue of his health, telling supporters at the start of the event that he was grateful to be alive.
“Tonight for me, it’s about being grateful, just grateful,” Fetterman said. “Three months ago my life could have ended. It’s the truth.”
The audience, which reportedly included voters who had previously supported Donald Trump, was estimated at more than 1,000 people, yet another clear demonstration of the palpable excitement fueling Fetterman’s campaign against the Republican candidate, celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz. In recent weeks, Oz has regularly questioned Fetterman’s stroke recovery and demanded that the lieutenant governor show up for five televised debates. Meanwhile, Oz still faces considerable ridicule for having lived in New Jersey for decades, in addition to owning five mansions—none of them located in the state where he running for Senate.
Fetterman begins his rally with a joke: “Wait, are we in Erie?” Or are these “1,400 people in my basement?”
He immediately talks about his stroke and grows visibly emotional. “Gisele saved my life,” he says. pic.twitter.com/xvZ96y1SmL
— Holly Otterbein (@hollyotterbein) August 12, 2022
Excuse my awful videography but 1,335 came out to see @JohnFetterman in Erie tonight. We expected a crowd of 500 max. pic.twitter.com/nahsa2gJ6Y
— Emilia Winter Rowland (@EmiliaWinterRo) August 13, 2022
On Friday, Fetterman, who is leading Oz by double digits, stood by his progressive platform, which includes his support for Medicare for All and legal marijuana, and he repeated his campaign promise to be the “51st vote” to eliminate the filibuster.