Pennsylvania Rep. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, sits down with Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, for a conversation with voters on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022. (Capital-Star photo by Marley Parish)
In the final push on the campaign trail and one day after appearing alongside President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama for packed rallies, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania joined voters in Harrisburg for a more intimate conversation about policy plans.
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman sat down with state Rep. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, at the Zembo Shrine building for a discussion with voters Sunday morning in Harrisburg, talking about his stroke, policy decisions, and what he described as the “stark choice” between himself and Republican nominee Mehmet Oz.
Dozens of supporters attended the event before the Nov. 8 election to hear from the candidate vying to replace retiring GOP U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey in the race that could determine political power in the upper chamber next year.
“It’s going to come down to every single vote,” Fetterman said. “And we’re making our closing argument by showing up and going all across Pennsylvania, up until the very last minute, to make sure we take this kind of conversation with every single person, and everybody understands what’s at stake here in this race.”
Fetterman, who used closed captioning during the half-hour conversation, discussed supporting workers and unions, protecting abortion access, raising the minimum wage, legalizing adult-use cannabis, and addressing gun violence. Advocating for expanded healthcare access, he also noted that suffering a stroke has made him a more empathetic candidate who understands the needs of Pennsylvanians.
“Our campaign has always been about trying, wanting to serve Pennsylvania. He’s essentially using Pennsylvania,” Fetterman said, referencing carpetbagger accusations Oz has faced since entering the race. “I think we could all … agree or understand what is the stark choice between us.”
Fetterman, reflecting on Saturday’s events with Biden and Obama, noted that the Democratic ticket — including Josh Shapiro and Austin Davis, who are running for governor and lieutenant governor, respectively — is “100 percent sedition-free.”
He jabbed at Oz and the GOP’s gubernatorial nominee, state Sen. Doug Mastriano for appearing alongside former President Donald Trump for a rally in Westmoreland County earlier in the weekend.
Mastriano, a staunch Trump ally, attended the Jan. 6 “Save America” rally and has fueled attacks on the electoral process in the aftermath of the 2020 general election.
“There’s no moderate if you’re willing to share a stage with somebody like Doug Mastriano,” Fetterman said.
Fetterman also attacked the celebrity heart surgeon’s views on abortion, saying the celebrity heart surgeon’s stance on abortion. During the first and only U.S. Senate debate, Oz said that reproductive health decisions should be between “women, doctors, [and] local political leaders.”
Asked about his policies on crime, which have become a focus for attacks against Fetterman from the Oz campaign, Fetterman said he believes in second chances and that a more holistic mentality for nonviolent offenders guided decisions while overseeing the state Board of Pardons.
To address gun violence, Fetterman suggested community partnerships with police, increased funding for law enforcement, and additional mental health support.
Oz, whose campaign website says he opposes “liberal gun grabs,” does not support red flag laws, which let states order the temporary removal of firearms from someone they believe poses a threat to others or themselves. Last month, Oz unveiled a plan to combat crime, including keeping cash bail for violent offenders, giving federal prosecutors resources to prosecute violent, repeat offenders, increasing penalties for certain crimes, and allocating more funds to law enforcement.
“If you’re fine with more guns on the street, support Dr. Oz. If you want fewer guns on the street, then you would support our candidacy,” Fetterman, who supports universal background checks and red flag laws, said.
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