White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday that President Biden regards Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman as an “impressive individual” who is “just as capable as always.”
Jean-Pierre was asked whether President Biden, who is scheduled to appear with the lieutenant governor later this week, had concerns about Fetterman’s health following his stroke earlier this year.
“The president has found him to be an impressive individual … who’s just as capable as always and who’s carrying out his office,” Jean-Pierre said, adding that Fetterman was serving the people of Pennsylvania as Lt. Gov. “with great ability and for concern.”
“So yes, the president feels that he is very much capable of doing the job,” Jean-Pierre said, noting that Biden and Fetterman have had “many interactions” over the past several months.
Fetterman, a Democrat, suffered a stroke on May 13, and his health has emerged as a major issue in the campaign against Republican opponent Dr. Mehmet Oz.
On Sunday, The Atlantic published a piece confirming NBC journalist Dasha Burns’ widely disputed claim that Fetterman appears to have problems making conversation without the use of closed captioning, noting that he had difficulty responding “meaningfully” to voter questions.
In the piece, Atlantic staff writer Elaine Godfrey noted that Fetterman “still struggles to process the words that he hears, and sometimes he can’t quite express what he means “five months after suffered a stroke.”
Burns’ Friday interview with Fetterman, which aired Tuesday, was his first on-camera interview since his stroke. He used a closed-captioning device that printed text of Burns’ questions on a computer screen in front of him.
Fetterman appeared to have little trouble answering the questions after he read them, although NBC showed him fumbling for the word “empathetic.” Burns said that when the captioning device was off, “it wasn’t clear he was understanding our conversation.”
Fetterman, 53, has been silent about releasing medical records or allowing reporters to question his doctors. He’s been receiving speech therapy and released a letter in June from his cardiologist, who said he will be fine and able to serve in the Senate if he eats healthy foods, takes prescribed medication and exercises.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.