Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s (D) Senate campaign released a new ad on Friday discussing his stroke after an NBC News interview this week reignited concerns about his health.
Fetterman, who suffered a stroke just days before the state’s May primary, faced new scrutiny after the interview aired on Tuesday, during which he appeared to have trouble articulating himself.
The Democratic nominee has repeatedly acknowledged that he faces auditory processing issues from his stroke.
“After my stroke, I was just grateful to see Gisele and our kids,” Fetterman says in the ad, which will begin airing on Saturday. “Across Pennsylvania, I keep seeing families that don’t have enough time to focus on each other. They’re struggling, left behind.”
“We’ve got to make it easier for people to spend time with those they love,” he says. “Politicians spend so much time fighting about the things that don’t matter. I’ll always be focused on what does — access to health care, lower costs, good jobs, more time with those we love.”
Fetterman campaign manager Brendan McPhillips used the ad to attack Republican opponent Mehmet Oz. McPhillips accused Oz and his allies of never running a single positive ad and instead spending millions on attack ads targeting Fetterman.
“We actually want voters to get to know our candidate,” McPhillips said in a press release. “We wanted voters to see who John is, what he stands for, and how personal this fight for families is to him.”
The Oz campaign has particularly focused in on Fetterman’s health, with one Oz aide even mocking the Democratic candidate over his stroke.
“If John Fetterman had ever eaten a vegetable in his life, then maybe he wouldn’t have had a major stroke and wouldn’t be in the position of having to lie about it constantly,” senior communications adviser Rachel Tripp said in an August statement.
Fetterman’s campaign, however, has also frequently attacked his opponent, often trolling Oz on social media. The Democratic candidate put up several billboards this week calling Oz a “Cowboys fan” — the Dallas Cowboys play the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday — and urging voters to elect a “real Pennsylvanian.”
Fetterman also mocked Oz with a “Jersey Boys” meme in September, as part of his campaign’s efforts to paint the Republican candidate as a carpetbagger from New Jersey. The campaign has previously also called in New Jersey celebrities to troll Oz about his residency and started a petition to add Oz to the New Jersey Hall of Fame.
Oz has closed in on Fetterman during the final weeks of the midterm elections. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report shifted the race back to “toss up” last week, less than two months after moving the race slightly in favor of the Democrat.