OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
Trump-backed TV personality Mehmet Oz has made significant progress over the past two weeks in his U.S. Senate race against Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, according to a Thursday poll.
The Trafalgar Group survey found that the two candidates are within the margin of error, with Fetterman at 47.2 percent and Oz at 44.8 percent, Breitbart News reported. That makes the race a virtual tie, the polling firm noted.
— Robert C. Cahaly (@RobertCahaly) October 14, 2022
“The poll also showed Erik Gerhardt, a libertarian, with 3.4 percent of the vote, while another .5 percent said other and 4.1 percent are undecided,” Breitbart reported, adding:
As the election is less than a month away, the poll was taken from October 8 to 11, with 1,078 likely general election voters as the respondents. There was also a 2.9 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level. Ultimately, while the polls show Oz trailing the lieutenant governor, it shows he has caught up to Fetterman within the margin of error.
The poll was taken before Fetterman sat down for an interview with NBC News’ Dasha Burns using closed captioning. “Because of his stroke, Fetterman’s campaign required closed captioning technology for this interview to essentially read our questions as we asked them,” Burns told NBC News anchor Lester Holt. “In small talk before the interview, without captioning, it wasn’t clear he was understanding our conversation.”
Questions surrounding Fetterman’s overall health after his stroke earlier this year have only grown in recent weeks.
“I don’t think it’s going to have an impact,” the Democrat candidate told Burns. “I feel like I’m gonna get better and better – every day. And by January, I’m going [to] be, you know, much better. And Dr. Oz is still going to be a fraud.”
However, he did admit that the stroke changed his life. “I sometimes will hear things in a way that’s not perfectly clear. So I use captioning so I’m able to see what you’re saying on the captioning,” the Democrat said.
“But it gets much, much better where I take in a lot,” he said. “But to be precise, I use captioning, so that’s really the maiming, excuse me, that’s the major challenge. And every now and then, I’ll miss a word. Every now and then. Or sometimes I’ll maybe mush two words together. But as long as I have captioning, I’m able to understand exactly what’s being asked.”
“We’ve asked for your medical records. We’ve asked to have a conversation with someone from your medical team, to interview your physician. You’ve declined those requests. Why?” the reporter said.
“I feel like we have been very transparent in a lot of different ways,” Fetterman said. “When our doctor has already given a letter saying that I’m able to serve and to be running,” he said as Burns noted that the letter came six months ago, asking: “Don’t voters deserve to know your status now?”
“As I said, being in front of thousands and thousands of people and having interviews and getting around all across Pennsylvania, that gives everybody– and the voters decide if they think that’s really the issue,” he said.
“And then I think there’s – you can’t be any more transparent than standing up on a stage with 3,000 people and having a speech without a teleprompter and just being – and putting everything and yourself out there like that. I think that’s as transparent as everyone in Pennsylvania can see,” he said.
NBC: “Can voters trust that you will be ready to do this job?”
Fetterman: “Yeah, of course,” after reading the question off a giant MacBook that he needs to understand what is being said to him. pic.twitter.com/McBRfyd3R3
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) October 11, 2022
NBC: “We’ve asked for your medical records… you’ve declined. Why?”
Fetterman: “Our doctor has already given a record saying I’m ready to serve.”
NBC: “That letter was six months ago. Don’t voters deserve to know your status now?”
Fetterman: I do speeches and give interviews pic.twitter.com/5yDNvaeYdN
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) October 11, 2022
Fetterman has also been criticized for saying in the past that he favors prison reform that would see many violent criminals let out early and put back on the streets even as crime rises in major cities like Philadelphia.
According to the New York Post, Fetterman — who is also chairman of Pennsylvania’s Board of Pardons — “commissioned two reports last year released by Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE) that recommended the BOP consider merit-based clemency for currently incarcerated second-degree murderers, as well as for the state legislature to reform the law that mandates life sentences without parole for second-degree murder convictions.”
At the time of the commissioning, Fetterman said he did it in a call for “mercy for the deserving and rehabilitated.”
As such, Just the News reports that the Philadelphia police union, which traditionally supports Democratic candidates, has come out in support of Oz instead, calling his campaign the “last thin line” between safety and chaos.
“We need, and this is very key, we need to have Dr. Oz in this position to support our law enforcement,” said Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 President John McNesby, NBC Philadelphia reports. “That’s the last thin line that the community has to be able to keep themselves safe.”