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Tipsheet

We Screwed Up: Dems Freaking Out That Fetterman Agreed to Debate Oz

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) tried to be a good soldier and mount a good defense against John Fetterman’s disastrous debate against Dr. Mehmet Oz. Fetterman, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, failed miserably against his Republican opponent, Oz, on Tuesday night, stumbling his way through the one-hour event that most knew was an incoming trainwreck. Both men are running to fill the vacancy left by outgoing Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. Fetterman suffered a severe stroke last spring but insists he’s healthy enough, citing a doctor’s note attesting to his well-being. The letter was written by a medical professional and one of Fetterman’s campaign donors. 

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Casey and the liberal media did their best to try and portray Fetterman’s catastrophic debate performance as that of an elite politician. They said the lieutenant governor articulated his points with precision and clarity. No one thought that even Democratic operatives who are privately fretting, the debate may have cost Fetterman the election. Some were blunter in their assessment of Tuesday night’s debacle, saying that this debate should have never been agreed to and that those who signed off on it should be fired and barred from politics. Regardless, the event has induced pure panic among Democrats, who once saw this as one of their safest races this year (via Fox News):

Democrats are privately "panicking" over Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman's debate performance Tuesday night and expressing regret over his decision to debate Republican opponent Dr. Mehmet Oz, according to NBC. 

The Democrat's lingering health problems due to a stroke he suffered in May resulted in a debate performance that some said was "painful to watch." Some Democrats felt Fetterman hadn't been transparent about the degree of his speaking difficulties and criticized his campaign for agreeing to the one and only debate. 

"[F]ellow Democrats are second-guessing his decision to appear on stage five months after a stroke — and some question whether he should have remained on the ballot at all," the NBC article began. 

Chris Kofinis, a veteran Democratic campaign strategist, put it bluntly to NBC: "He should not have debated. Anyone on his team who agreed to a debate should be fired, or never work again, because that debate may have tanked his campaign." 

Several Democrats were apparently "shocked" by the extent of Fetterman's speaking difficulties during the debate, leaving some Democrats to question why he was still running. 

One senior Senate Democratic aide told NBC they found Fetterman's performance "startling."

"I really question the judgment that he continued with this race," the person said.

"Folks are pretty much freaking out on the Dem side," Khari Mosley, a Pittsburgh-based Democratic consultant and grassroots activist added.

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To his credit, Oz turned this around when things looked like this could be one of the most significant dumpster fires of the cycle. Dr. Oz, a television personality, certainly wasn’t the first pick for Pennsylvania Republicans, but he revamped his operation and found a message—public safety—that resonated with voters, especially those in the suburbs. It also helped that Fetterman has a notoriously weak record on law and order issues, wanting to abolish life sentences for murderers and emptying one-third of all state prisons.

Fetterman’s once stout double-digit lead this summer has been erased, and this debate which once again showed voters that he’s not healthy enough to be a US Senator might have been the death knell.

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