The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Head of Republican Party mocks speaking abilities of Fetterman, Biden

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel speaks during an Oct. 18 rally in Tampa. (Chris O’Meara/AP)

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on Thursday mocked the speaking abilities of Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate who is recovering from a stroke, and President Biden, who grew up with a stutter.

McDaniel was interviewed by syndicated radio host Hugh Hewitt about news that Biden and Vice President Harris plan to appear at a political event in Philadelphia on Friday intended to boost Fetterman and other Pennsylvania Democrats on the ballot.

“No one wants them except a doomed campaign,” Hewitt said, suggesting that Democrats around the country have asked Biden and Harris to stay away.

“I do not underestimate what the triple toxicity politically of those three can do,” Hewitt, a Washington Post contributing columnist, continued. “I hope there are cameras and microphones, because you put those three together and they could say anything, Ronna.”

“Well, maybe they can get a full sentence out,” McDaniel replied.

Pennsylvania Senate candidates Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) and Mehmet Oz (R) squared off in their first and only debate in Harrisburg, Pa., on Oct. 25. (Video: JM Rieger/The Washington Post)

McDaniel indicated that she agreed with Hewitt about the undesirability of campaigning with Biden and Harris, speculating that Fetterman “drew the short straw.”

“I think all the candidates got together and said, ‘Which one of us has to campaign with Biden?’ [Fetterman] drew the short straw,” McDaniel said.

She added, “So Biden said, ‘Between the two of us, we may be able to finish a full sentence.’ ”

Fetterman, who suffered a near-fatal stroke in May, is locked in a tight race in Pennsylvania with Republican Mehmet Oz, the celebrity physician.

During a debate Tuesday night, Fetterman at times stumbled over his words and spoke in a halting manner.

Fetterman debate reaction reveals stigma disabled candidates face

During a television appearance Thursday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) suggested that Fetterman’s performance should give voters pause.

“Even those Democrats on CNN were embarrassed of who their nominee was and the capability of carrying out the job,” McCarthy said. “This is a big job in the Senate.”

Press Enter to skip to end of carousel
Get the latest 2022 election updates
Senate control
Democrats will keep Senate majority after winning eight out of the nine seats rated competitive by Cook Political Report. The only remaining race will be decided in Georgia in a Dec. 6 runoff — here’s how it will work.
House control
Republicans narrowly won back control of the House, creating a split Congress and dealing a blow to President Biden and his agenda.
What the results mean for 2024
A Republican Party red wave seems to be a ripple after Republicans fell short in the Senate and narrowly won control in the House. Donald Trump announced his 2024 presidential campaign on Tuesday, ignoring the advice of longtime allies who encouraged him to delay the announcement.

1/3

End of carousel

McDaniel is not the first prominent Republican to mock someone with a disability. During a 2015 campaign appearance, Donald Trump mimicked a reporter with a congenital joint condition that limits movement in his arms.

The campaign of Hillary Clinton sought to use images of Trump doing so against him in campaign ads.

The 2022 Midterm Elections

Georgia runoff election: Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D) won re-election in the Georgia Senate runoff, defeating Republican challenger Herschel Walker and giving Democrats a 51st seat in the Senate for the 118th Congress. Get live updates here and runoff results by county.

Divided government: Republicans narrowly won back control of the House, while Democrats will keep control of the Senate, creating a split Congress.

What the results mean for 2024: A Republican Party red wave seems to be a ripple after Republicans fell short in the Senate and narrowly won control in the House. Donald Trump announced his 2024 presidential campaign shortly after the midterms. Here are the top 10 2024 presidential candidates for the Republicans and Democrats.

Loading...