‘Hi. Goodnight, Everybody’: Even Liberals Admit Fetterman’s Debate Performance Was Abysmal

Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate John Fetterman reacts to applause from supporters during a joint rally with Democratic candidate for Governor Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro at Norris Park on October 15, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Mark Makela via Getty Images

Tuesday night’s debate between two Senate hopefuls in Pennsylvania turned out to be a disaster for one of them.

The performance of Democrat John Fetterman, who suffered a stroke over the summer and has clearly not fully recovered, was so bad even liberals were forced to admit just how truly awful it was.

The train wreck began from the first words the Lurch-like Fetterman uttered: “Hi. Goodnight, everybody.”

What the …!?

At one point, Fetterman was asked about his position on fracking, with a debate moderator noting he said in a 2018 interview that he completely opposed the practice.

“I do support fracking — I don’t, I don’t — I support fracking, and I stand — and I do support fracking,” he stammered.

At another point, Fetterman was asked: “Has the Biden administration overspent?”

Fetterman: “Here’s what I think we have to fight about inflation here right now.”


Throughout the debate, Fetterman proved he is simply not cognitively able to serve in the Senate. His comprehension was so bad after his stroke that he had to have a giant teleprompter erected in order to read what his opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz, was saying.

Of course, recovery from a stroke is difficult and everyone hopes Fetterman fully recovers. But it’s an odd time for him to seek a six-year gig in the world’s most exclusive debate club, where comprehension in fast-paced oratories is key.

Before the debate, Fetterman’s campaign said there would be “awkward pauses” and “delays and errors” as the candidate would be reading closed captioning because of his “auditory processing issue.”

Afterward, they declared victory and blamed Fetterman’s dismal performance on the closed captioning — which they had demanded.

“We are thrilled with John’s performance. He did remarkably well tonight — especially when you consider that he’s still recovering from a stroke and was working off of delayed captions filled with errors. John won countless exchanges, counter-punched aggressively, and pushed back on Oz’s cruelty and attacks,” said Joe Calvello, Fetterman’s communications director.

Gary Weitman, communications chief for Nexstar, which ran the closed captioning, fired back, saying, “It is unfortunate that Mr. Fetterman is now criticizing the closed captioning process employed by Nexstar during tonight’s debate.”

“Both candidates agreed to the technical set-up for the closed captioning process weeks ago, which was implemented at the request of the Fetterman campaign. Both candidates were offered the opportunity for two full rehearsals with the same equipment used in tonight’s debate; Mr. Fetterman chose to do only one,” he said.

At another point, a debate moderator asked: “You say that you will hold big corporations accountable for what you call price gouging. How will you do that?”

Fetterman: “Exactly. Dr. Oz has never seen an oil company he wouldn’t swipe right on.”

And at yet another point, while discussing the minimum wage, Fetterman said: “How can a man, you know, with with 10 gigantic mansions has — am willing to talk about willing wage for anybody? Imagine a signal mom trying with two children trying to raise with them.”

After the debate, CNN host Alisyn Camerota said she was unsettled by the spectacle. “I’ve interviewed him many times as lieutenant governor,’ she said. “And he sounds – he’s sounded different before the stroke. In the interviews, he was much more, sort of, clear spoken than what I’m hearing.”

Some Democrats agree, with David Axelrod, a Democrat strategist who served as a senior adviser to Obama, writing on Twitter: “‘Fetterman needed to show he’s sufficiently recovered, and this debate surely did not help.”

Another huge liberal, former CNN host Chris Cuomo, said on his NewsNation show he was troubled by the performance.

“John Fetterman struggled,” Cuomo said. “He clearly is dealing with health issues that affect his ability to process and his ability to speak. Clearly, fitness for office is going to be on the table.”

“That may not be fair, to some, for me to say – but if the voters aren’t talking about it, I’ll be shocked,” Cuomo said.

Oh, they’re talking about it, Chris.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent for a national newspaper. He was also the a.m. editor of the Drudge Report for four years. Send tips to [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  ‘Hi. Goodnight, Everybody’: Even Liberals Admit Fetterman’s Debate Performance Was Abysmal