Fetterman gives first Pittsburgh speech since stroke, as rival steps up criticism of his health

US Senate candidate John Fetterman speaks to a gathering of Steelworkers on August 23, 2022. (Oliver Morrison/WESA)

US Senate candidate John Fetterman speaks to a gathering of Steelworkers on August 23, 2022. (Oliver Morrison/WESA)

This story originally appeared on WESA

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman spoke publicly in Pittsburgh for the first time since he suffered a stroke in May on Tuesday, as his Republican opponent in the U.S. Senate race, Dr. Mehmet Oz, pressed Fetterman to commit to debates – and sharpened his criticism of Fetterman’s health problems.

Fetterman joined other Democratic officials at the international headquarters of the United Steelworkers, who rolled out their endorsements Tuesday. His speech, like those of other office-seekers, lasted less than five minutes. And though he was animated, there were several times he paused awkwardly – a performance similar to his appearance in Erie earlier this month.

And as in Erie, Fetterman didn’t take questions from reporters, either as he entered or left the campaign. But in his speech, he thanked the AFL-CIO for endorsing him on the first day of his campaign, and said he has a unique relationship with steelworkers, because he lives across the street from the Edgar Thomson steel plant in Braddock.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman spoke publicly in Pittsburgh for the first time since he suffered a stroke in May on Tuesday, as his Republican opponent in the U.S. Senate race, Dr. Mehmet Oz, pressed Fetterman to commit to debates – and sharpened his criticism of Fetterman’s health problems.

Fetterman joined other Democratic officials at the international headquarters of the United Steelworkers, who rolled out their endorsements Tuesday. His speech, like those of other office-seekers, lasted less than five minutes. And though he was animated, there were several times he paused awkwardly – a performance similar to his appearance in Erie earlier this month.

And as in Erie, Fetterman didn’t take questions from reporters, either as he entered or left the campaign. But in his speech, he thanked the AFL-CIO for endorsing him on the first day of his campaign, and said he has a unique relationship with steelworkers, because he lives across the street from the Edgar Thomson steel plant in Braddock.

“John Fetterman’s anti-fracking agenda would devastate hard-working Pennsylvanians,” according to a statement from the committee.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Darrin Kelly, the president of the Allegheny-Fayette Labor Council, said he believes Fetterman has made his support for energy and for jobs clear. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him say that he was against any form of work,” he said. “John has always been for work.”

Fetterman has previously supported a proposal to allow natural-gas drilling beneath the site of the Edgar Thomson works – a move he said would protect union jobs – and supported US Steel in the face of criticism of pollution problems at its Clairton coke works

Kelly thought Fetterman’s speech demonstrated that he is healthy enough to run for Senate. “I think he looked very sharp today,” he said. “Very sharp.”

Get the WHYY app!

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal