Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democratic candidate for US Senate, speaks during a campaign event in Pittsburgh, on October 26, 2022.
CNN  — 

In the closing days of the most-watched Senate campaign in the country, a super PAC aligned with former President Donald Trump is running ads that openly question whether Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is up to the job he’s seeking.

After running through a series of problems facing the country – crime, the southern border, the potential nuclear threat from Russia and the economy – the new ad lumps Fetterman and President Joe Biden together, suggesting they are simply not up to the task.

“Joe Biden and John Fetterman aren’t up to these challenges,” the ad’s narrator says. “Biden is stumbling around and Fetterman just isn’t right.” The President is shown stumbling – get it? – up the steps of Air Force One, while an image of Fetterman appearing confused flashes on the screen.

More on key Senate races

  • Herschel Walker’s campaign fires its political director in key Georgia Senate race
  • Trump’s Arizona slate risks turning off independent-minded voters in key Senate and governor’s races
  • Wisconsin Senate race could hinge on voters’ views of economy, inflation
  • See Senate race ratings by Inside Elections

  • The commercial ends with Fetterman saying of Philadelphia’s NFL team: “The Eagles are so much better than the Eagles.”

    It’s part of the Trump-affiliated MAGA Inc. super PAC’s $2.6 million ad buy in Pennsylvania. The group is spending more than $800,000 on the spot, according to Fox News.

    The ad comes on the heels of Fetterman and Dr. Mehmet Oz debating for the first and only time in the race. Fetterman, who had a stroke in May and continues to struggle with auditory processing issues, struggled mightily to make his points at the debate.

    That led to nervousness among Democrats that Fetterman’s performance would raise further questions in voters’ minds about his medical condition.

    And even Fetterman acknowledged that the debate had been a major challenge for him. “To be honest, doing that debate wasn’t exactly easy,” he said at a rally Wednesday night. “I knew it wasn’t going to be easy having a stroke after five months. In fact, I don’t think that’s ever been done before in American political history.”

    It’s unclear whether voters will give Fetterman credit for trying to debate. Or whether they will see his obvious struggles and doubt whether he should even be running for the Senate.

    What is beyond doubt, however, is that the combination of Fetterman’s debate performance and the new Trump super PAC ad ensure that the Democrat’s health will be a major issue in the final days of the race.

    And at least some of the blame for that lies with Fetterman’s campaign, which has, at times, downplayed the severity of his condition.

    “The good news is I’m feeling much better, and the doctors tell me I didn’t suffer any cognitive damage,” Fetterman said in a statement just days after the stroke in May. “I’m well on my way to a full recovery.”

    But that story had changed several weeks later.

    “The stroke I suffered on May 13 didn’t come out of nowhere,” Fetterman said in a June statement. “Like so many others, and so many men in particular, I avoided going to the doctor, even though I knew I didn’t feel well. As a result, I almost died. I want to encourage others to not make the same mistake.”

    Which is very different!

    Fetterman’s campaign has also refused to release more detailed medical records pertaining to his stroke and recovery. The campaign released a report from Fetterman’s doctor last week that said he was “recovering well from his stroke” and “has no work restrictions and can work full duty in public office,” which followed a similar letter in June. At Tuesday’s debate, Fetterman declined to release more medical information.

    Will that lack of full transparency – coupled with Fetterman’s clear struggles in the debate – impact the final days of the campaign? Republicans are betting on it.