John Fetterman will continue his soft return to the campaign trail on Thursday, attending a fundraiser in Philadelphia two months after a life-threatening stroke sent him to the sidelines of one of the most closely-watched Senate contests in the country.
The fundraiser, sponsored by Democratic Jewish Outreach Pennsylvania, does not represent a full reentry to the campaign – Fetterman aides tell CNN that will happen in the “coming weeks” with an event in western Pennsylvania – but it is the next step in the Democratic candidate’s slow return to reengaging with voters, with the fall election less than four months away.
Fetterman will face Dr. Mehmet Oz in November’s race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. The race is one of the Democratic Party’s best chances to pick up a seat in the evenly divided Senate during what is expected to be a trying midterm election for President Joe Biden and the party in power. Democrats got a shot of good news recently when Fetterman’s campaign reported it had raised $11 million in the second quarter of the year, a number that dwarfed Oz’s $3.8 million raised and set off alarm bells in Republican circles. Oz aides have said the candidate will have all the money needed to defeat Fetterman.
“I would never be in this if we were not absolutely, 100% able to run fully and to win — and we believe that we are,” Fetterman told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Wednesday, in his first interview since suffering the stroke. Later in the interview, he said, “Truthfully, my life is very normal, other than just not doing campaign events right now.”
Fetterman added that he had “no physical limits” and is “feeling really good,” but sometimes struggles with hearing and occasionally slurs two words together. Even still, he added, he is fully confident he has what it takes to run in the highly contested race.
Joe Calvello, a Fetterman spokesman, said the candidate is “getting better every day” is “excited to be in Philadelphia” for his upcoming fundraiser.
“He will be back on the trail here in the coming weeks,” he added. “Very soon.”