John Fetterman — who struggled through his own rocky debate — defends Biden from ‘Democratic vultures’

Pennsylvania Democratic Senator John Fetterman came to the defense of President Joe Biden after his “rough” debate with former President Donald Trump.

Fetterman shared a screenshot of a Politico story outlining how “panicked” Democrats are beginning to look for alternatives to Biden after a debate performance widely viewed as an utter disaster.

“I refuse to join the Democratic vultures on Biden’s shoulder after the debate,” Fetterman wrote on X. “No one knows more than me that a rough debate is not the sum total of the person and their record.”

The reaction on Capitol Hill to the Pennsylvania Senate debate in late October 2022 between Fetterman and Republican nominee Mehmet Oz was brutal, with several people telling Axios at the time that they wondered why Fetterman had agreed to debate at all.

“Why the hell did Fetterman agree to this?” a Democratic lawmaker and supporter of Fetterman told the outlet at the time. “This will obviously raise more questions than answers about John’s health.”

Senator John Fetterman came to the defense of President Joe Biden (Getty)
Senator John Fetterman came to the defense of President Joe Biden (Getty)

During the debate, Fetterman addressed his recent health complications.

“I had a stroke. He’s never let me forget that,” he said of Oz, a well-known TV doctor. “And I might miss some words during this debate, mush two words together, but it knocked me down and I’m going to keep coming back up.”

After the debate on NewsNation, host Leland Vittert said, “The biggest issue was John Fetterman’s health and his ability to comprehend speech, and to then speak coherently on the issues of the day.”

“Everyone is nervous. I’ve traveled everywhere. Fetterman is a deep concern. And this debate will only increase it,” a Pennsylvania Democratic official said at the time, according to Axios.

Despite the debate, Fetterman went on to win his Senate race in November 2022.

“Morning-after thermonuclear beat downs from my race from the debate and polling geniuses like 538 predicted l’d lose by 2,” Fetterman wrote on X on Friday. “And what happened? The only seat to flip and won by a historic margin (+5). Chill the f*** out.”

Biden’s voice was hoarse and strained on Thursday night and Democrats began to panic as he failed to give clear answers. It reminded the public that he’s the oldest president in U.S. history, whom they have seen stumble over words and whose memory faced thorough inspection in a special counsel’s report.

As of June 27, the day of the debate, Trump was ahead in FiveThirtyEight’s average of national polls by 0.2 percentage points, 41.1 percent to Biden’s 40.9.

Vice President Kamala Harris acknowledged on CNN that it had been a “slow start” for Biden.

She added: “That’s obvious to everyone. I’m not going to debate that point. I’m talking about the choice in November.”

Strategists close to Democrats who may be possible presidential candidates told Politico that they received plenty of texts during the debate, with one saying they had received requests for their candidate to step up and serve as an alternative.

One adviser told the outlet that they had “taken no less than half a dozen key donors texting ‘disaster’ and [the] party needs to do something.”

But they noted that not much can be done unless Biden chooses to step aside. And on Friday, CNN reported that Biden plans to stay in the race and is committed to taking part in the second debate planned for September.