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Fetterman was hospitalized after he felt lightheaded during a Democratic Senate retreat earlier this month and checked himself into inpatient care for severe clinical depression one week later, a move which will sideline the freshman lawmaker from his duties for several weeks. Shapiro, who was also inaugurated into his first term last month, said in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer that he expects Fetterman to “come back stronger than ever” after treatment.
“He’s going to get the help that he needs,” Shapiro told the outlet, “and do a great job for the people of Pennsylvania as their senator for a long time.”
Fetterman, who previously served as lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania and mayor of the Rust Belt town of Braddock, suffered a stroke and was hospitalized in May 2022, less than one week before the Democratic primary for the open Senate seat in Pennsylvania. Ramesh Chandra, the official’s cardiologist, claimed that Fetterman would be able to run for office and represent the commonwealth as long as he “takes his medication, eats healthy, and stays active.”
Shapiro would be able to appoint a temporary replacement for Fetterman should he elect to resign. He told the Philadelphia Inquirer that no prominent Pennsylvania Democrats have pushed him to ask for the lawmaker’s resignation and clarified that he “would dismiss” any such pressure “immediately.” The former attorney general of Pennsylvania added that he is “really inspired” by Fetterman and his decision to be public with his mental health issues.
The race between Fetterman and Dr. Mehmet Oz, his unsuccessful Republican rival, was marked by questions about the former candidate’s mental acuity. After removing himself from the campaign trail for nearly two months, Fetterman stuttered, slurred, and lost his train of thought during stump speeches throughout the summer and fall. When the two candidates mounted the debate stage in late October, Fetterman faltered and provided choppy responses despite the inclusion of a closed captioning system positioned behind the moderators.
NBC News reporter Dasha Burns was one of the few members of the legacy media to report objectively about the health concerns; she faced a deluge of criticism after she conducted an interview with Fetterman and reported that he “had trouble finding words” despite his use of a large computer screen and closed captioning system throughout the conversation. Fetterman’s wife Gisele said that Burns was “ableist” for noting that her husband had not provided an update on his recovery.
“If this happened in a school, if this was a child that was ableist towards another child or a teacher, there would’ve been issues stated. There would have been new training done,” she commented. “What is being done at the media after a reporter came out so openly ableist towards a person? I think shocked and appalled, but sadly not surprised. I know there’s still so much to do, but it would be great to see some accountability, to actually see real change.”