Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) said Friday he needs “some more time” to recover from a stroke he suffered last month before he returns to actively campaigning for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat and revealed he had ignored a heart condition.
“I am going to take the time I need now to rest and get to 100 percent so I can go full speed soon and flip this seat blue,” Fetterman said in a statement on Sunday, adding that he felt “great” but intended to “continue to rest and recover.”
In a brief interview on May 20th, Gisele Barreto Fetterman, who is Fetterman’s wife, told the story of his stroke, from her perspective.
“We had been on the road campaigning,” she said. “We had had breakfast, and he was feeling fine.” The couple got into a car to go to an event at Millersville University when, she said, “the left side of his mouth drooped for just a second.”
“I had a gut instinct that something was happening,” Ms. Fetterman said. “I yelled to the trooper, ‘I think he’s having a stroke.’ He said, ‘I’m fine. What are you talking about? I feel fine.’”
Some state and national Democrats are said to be concerned about his absence from the trail, and he gave no solid timeline on when he may be able to return to campaigning in one of the most contested races in the country this midterm election cycle.
Fetterman suffered a stroke just days before Pennsylvania’s primary elections, in which he won the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat. After the stroke, he had a standard procedure to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator.
Fetterman said that in 2017 he was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm and a decreased heart pump, and he did not take care of himself after that diagnosis. He said his doctors told him that had he kept “taking the blood thinners, I never would have had a stroke.”
“Doctors have told me I need to continue to rest, eat healthy, exercise, and focus on my recovery, and that’s exactly what I’m doing,” Fetterman said in a statement Friday.
“It will take some more time to get back on the campaign trail like I was in the lead-up to the primary. It’s frustrating all the more so because this is my own fault, but bear with me, I need a little more time. I’m not quite back to 100% yet, but I’m getting closer every day,” he added.
“It’s not something I’m proud of, but it is something I hope that others can learn from,” he added. “I didn’t do what the doctor told me. But I won’t make that mistake again.”
“This race is so important for Pennsylvania and for the country. I’m going to be ready for it, and I can’t wait to get back on the trail.”
He also released a letter from his cardiologist, Ramesh Chandra, who said “The prognosis I can for John’s heart is this: If he takes his medications, eats healthy, and exercises, he’ll be fine.”
“If he does what I’ve told him to do, and I do believe that he is taking his recovery and health very seriously this time, he should be able to campaign and serve in the U.S. Senate without a problem,” the doctor added.
It’s currently unclear which Republican Fetterman will face in the election this fall, as the GOP primary between Mehmet Oz and David McCormick for the seat is still too close to call and is locked in a recount.
An unnamed elected Pennsylvania Democrat told NBC News earlier this week that “A lot of us Democratic Party types are very nervous about” Fetterman’s health.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: CNN