Fetterman is likely to be held to a higher degree of scrutiny over any verbal missteps in tonight’s debate, according to disability advocates.
His auditory processing issues and stroke recovery is something that Fetterman attempted to address as “the elephant in the room” in his opening speech by saying, “I might miss a few words during this debate."
Ordinarily, if a candidate gets tongue-tied or messes up words, it’s viewed as a result of nerves or an “off night.” In Fetterman’s case, any difficult moments may add to questions voters may have over his stroke recovery. Sarah Blahovec, a disability civic engagement expert who has worked as the voting and civic engagement director at the National Council for Independent Living, said verbal missteps should not be seen as a reflection on Fetterman’s ability to serve. “Even the people who are criticizing him now have had days where they’re exhausted enough to mess up a word,” she said.