Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the state’s Democratic nominee for Senate, told NBC News in an interview published Tuesday that his daily life has been significantly different since he had his stroke in May.
“It changes everything. Everything about it is changed,” Fetterman told NBC’s Dasha Burns about his day-to-day experience.
The interview, which will air in its entirety on “NBC Nightly News” on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., is Fetterman’s first conducted in person since he had his stroke days before winning the Democratic primary in May.
Fetterman began giving interviews in July, but they have been conducted virtually. He said in his first interview after the stroke with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he “feels really good,” but his health has become an issue on the campaign trail. His Republican opponent, Mehmet Oz, has argued that Fetterman has not been completely forthcoming about the status of his health.
Fetterman told Burns that he still uses captioning to help him understand dialogue and that he sometimes misses a word. He said he will also occasionally “mush” two words together, but he was able to read immediately after the stroke and did not lose any memories.
Fetterman answered questions from NBC orally after reading the captions on a computer screen. He said he is able to understand what is being asked as long as he has captioning.
He said having the stroke made him more empathetic to the types of challenges that Americans face every day.
Fetterman’s stroke gained a more prominent spotlight in the race after one of Oz’s aides mocked him over it in August.
“If John Fetterman had ever eaten a vegetable in his life, then maybe he wouldn’t have had a major stroke and wouldn’t be in the position of having to lie about it constantly,” said Oz’s senior communications adviser, Rachel Tripp.
Oz has also criticized Fetterman for being slow to commit to meeting for a debate and suggested Fetterman might not have been transparent about his health status based on his hesitation. A debate is scheduled for Oct. 25.
Fetterman said the stroke would not affect his ability to serve if he is elected to the Senate to succeed the retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R). He said he is going to continue to get better every day and will be “much better” by the time he would be sworn in in January.
Fetterman has led Oz throughout much of the race, but polls have indicated that his lead may be narrowing. FiveThirtyEight’s polling average has Fetterman leading Oz by 3.5 points.