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Tipsheet

Karine Jean-Pierre Comes to Fetterman's Defense After Disastrous Debate Performance

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

The Tuesday night debate between John Fetterman and Dr. Mehmet Oz as they vie to replace retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) was truly something else, making it clear why Fetterman agreed to only the one. Despite how Fetterman still shows signs of having experienced his stroke in May, many in the press flocked to praise him, and that was furthered even more during Wednesday's press briefing

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The most obvious example of this took place at a point during the press briefing when a question echoed the message from the liberal media focusing on those with disabilities. "I’m just curious if the President feels that the lieutenant governor’s decision to participate in that debate was an important moment in terms of welcoming people who have disabilities into the public sphere and whether that was important symbolically," the reporter asked. 

Jean-Pierre had to offer that "we are impressed by his courage.  We are impressed by what he’s been able to accomplish these past several months.  And, you know, the president will--will continue to work with him down the road." This showed to be her way of signifying they expect Fetterman to be elected and serve in the Senate, as she would suggest throughout the briefing. 

Jean-Pierre did not shy away from providing what praise she could, though. This included when another reporter asked if President Joe Biden has had "any concerns about his health" when it comes to Fetterman. 

Prefacing most of her answers with "I'll say this," perhaps so as to seek to protect herself, Jean-Pierre offered that " in personal conversations that the president has had with the lieutenant governor, the president has found him to be impressive--an incredibly bright and talented person who’s just as capable as always to carry out his office," reminding that Fetterman currently serves as the lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania. 

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While Jean-Pierre did point out that Biden "respects the courage and the honesty that he sees from the lieutenant governor that he’s experienced in their conversation, in their relationship over time," voters haven't exactly seen "honesty" from Fetterman, certainly not transparency. Yet Jean-Pierre still claimed that "we have, of course, as it relates to your question about his health, seen the same comments from independent medical experts that you all have noted and that the improving symptoms he has had to do with the speech and hearing--not all with cognitive function."

Considering that a neurologist told Chris Cuomo that this may be as much as Fetterman is going to improve, and the doctor who gave Fetterman a good update is a campaign donor, it's not so much of an obvious "of course."

She went on to note Biden "sees him as an authentic individual who is fighting every day for the middle class, and finds him incredibly impressive."

The press briefing actually kicked off with a question from the Associated Press Zeke Miller's, who asked if Biden watched the speech on Tuesday night. Given that it aired in the 8pm hour, it's possible he was already asleep. Because they had had "a very busy morning," and the Israeli president had been visiting, Jean-Pierre "was not able to get an answer on that."

Even though Miller reminded her he was merely asking if Biden had watched the debate, Jean-Pierre doubled down on concerns with getting "into political matters from here," there being concerns with the Hatch Act. 

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Nevertheless, she again presumed Fetterman would end up elected, as she pointed out "the president looks forward to working with the lieutenant governor when he is--when he is in the Senate, so, we--to continue to lower costs and continue to deliver for the middle-class family." Jean-Pierre also further emphasized the candidate's supposed commitment to the middle-class. When it comes to the president's view, "in his conversations that he’s had with Lieutenant Governor Fetterman, he finds the lieutenant governor to be a strong and authentic advocate for the middle class."

For all the praising of "honesty," perhaps the most worthwhile takeaway is that Jean-Pierre would not indicate whether Fetterman should release his medical records. 

And, later still, when it came to any concerns the White House may have had about Fetterman's performance, Jean-Pierre was also unable to sufficiently answer. Her excuse was that "it's been a busy day," and she assured the reporter "it’s not a conversation that we are--we are currently having here internally."

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With this response, Jean-Pierre reminded that Biden met with Fetterman the week before, though she got the exact date wrong. It's also worth noting that during that appearance, from last Thursday, Biden raised eyebrows when during his public remarks he indicated to John Fetterman's wife, "you're gonna be a great lady in the Senate." As even The New York Times took note of, where Biden and Fetterman appeared together to speak to voters at "a closed-door reception for invited guests only."

As RealClearPolitics (RCP) currently has the race, Fetterman's lead is down to just +1.3 in the polls, and the race is regarded as a "Toss Up" with a projection of "GOP hold."

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