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CNN Medical Analyst Offers Some Eyebrow Raising Criticism of Oz's Debate Performance

AP Photo/Photo by Patrick Semanksy, Left, and David Dremer, Right

By any objective metric, Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman bombed his one and only debate this week against GOP opponent Dr. Mehmet Oz. Despite assurances he only has some auditory processing issues following a stroke in the spring, it was evident the challenges he faces during recovery are much greater than he or his campaign have claimed.

The "Fetterman is not well" chorus has grown so loud that his campaign had to come up with some sort of excuse, so they settled on blaming technology

"We are thrilled with John's performance. He did remarkably well tonight — especially when you consider that he's still recovering from a stroke and was working off of delayed captions filled with errors. John won countless exchanges, counter-punched aggressively, and pushed back on Oz's cruelty and attacks," Fetterman for Pennsylvania communications director Joe Calvello said.

But to CNN's medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner, fault also lies with Oz…for speaking "intentionally" and even "cruelly" faster than normal. 

"I take care of people like Mr. Fetterman, who have had atrial fibrillation, which is where we think his stroke came from, how it originated, and I admire his courage to go on that debate last night," he said sympathetically. "He had to know that he was facing a fast-talking TV doctor that at times seemed to be talking even intentionally faster in the face of Mr. Fetterman's difficulty speaking. Sometimes it appeared almost cruelly faster. He had to know that he would get the kind of reception that he got from that. And being the son of a man who had atrial fibrillation and had a stroke, I know how much work it takes to recover and I admire Mr. Fetterman's determination to do that, but he's obviously had a pretty significant neurological injury."

Given that the candidates had only 60 seconds to respond to questions, it's no wonder Oz, or any candidate for that matter, would try to make the most of it. Even still, Reiner is making it seem as if Oz came out as an auctioneer to throw Fetterman off. Anyone watching knows that's not the case, not even close. Oz's job on Tuesday was to make his case to Pennsylvania voters. He shouldn't be expected to markedly slow his speech down because of Fetterman's handicap, but that's exactly what equity-obsessed Democrats have come to expect, apparently. 

It was difficult to watch Tuesday's debate and see Fetterman struggle as he did. Most people are sympathetic to the health challenges he faces as an individual but are less so when this person is a candidate seeking a U.S. Senate seat, where communication plays a central role in the job. Fetterman and his campaign have clearly downplayed his "significant neurological injury," and we'll soon find out how much that matters to Democratic and independent voters in the Keystone State. 

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