‘It Requires Competency’: Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum On Whether John Fetterman Can Do The Job With Serious Health Issues

‘It Requires Competency’: Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum On Whether John Fetterman Can Do The Job With Serious Health Issues

Former Republican Pennsylvania Sen. and presidential candidate Rick Santorum said that Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman will be unable to represent the Keystone State because of his significant cognitive challenges.

Fetterman, who suffered a stroke days before the primary election, faltered and provided noticeably choppy responses during the contest’s only debate as Republican rival Dr. Mehmet Oz pressed the Democrat on his progressive platform. Santorum, who spent two terms in the House of Representatives and two terms in the Senate, remarked in an interview with The Daily Wire that serving in the upper chamber demands significant persuasive and cognitive skill.

“A senator does more than just votes. In fact, we spent very little time casting votes. We spent a lot of time working on issues, providing leadership on a variety of fronts,” he commented. “Most senators are involved in areas where they provide leadership, whether internationally working with other countries, working with organizations, or for particular causes. You have cachet as a senator, and most senators are capable of using that cachet to have an influence, to improve your country and to fight for the interests of your state. If you don’t have the ability to communicate, that becomes nearly impossible.”

Fetterman had a number of noticeable outbursts and moments of frustration during his debate as moderators posed questions on his agenda and record. “You saw how he responded to stress at that debate: not well. You don’t put someone in there who’s incapacitated to do the job that you’re asking him to do,” Santorum added. “On top of that, here’s a man with a defibrillator. Here’s a man with a pacemaker. Here’s a man who has AFib and who is, by all measures, a ticking time bomb for another stroke sometime soon.”

Gisele Barreto Fetterman, the wife of John Fetterman, rebuked an NBC News reporter who reported on his cognitive issues by calling for “some accountability” and labeling her “ableist.” Santorum rejected the notion that observing the nominee’s evident cognitive decline is bigoted.

“There’s a whole host of things that a senator does, but it requires competency. It requires being able to communicate, being able to effectively formulate ideas and present those ideas in ways that are persuasive,” Santorum continued. “Greg Abbott, for example, he’s paralyzed, but he can do the job. So it’s not a matter of ableism. It’s a matter of having the necessary skills to do the job which you’re being asked to do, and he doesn’t have that, any more than you would hire a plumber who’s paralyzed from the neck down.”

Economic issues are the most pressing for voters nationwide as supply chain bottlenecks, labor shortages, and government spending worsen inflationary pressures. Santorum noted that Fetterman and other Pennsylvania Democrats must express support for fracking in order to win office in the energy-rich state.

“The Republicans have controlled the legislature there for a long time, and as a result have made sure that energy production went forward in Pennsylvania, even in the face of Democratic governors,” he noted. “Almost all of the trade unions in Pennsylvania now align with the Republicans more than the Democrats because it’s a jobs issue. And this is a huge producer of union jobs, all throughout the commonwealth.”

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat completing his final term in office, enacted a second round of lockdowns that began weeks before the holiday season of 2020, dealing a fresh blow to the commonwealth’s businesses. Although economic fallout from the aggressive policies may influence voters, Santorum expects that suburban mothers impacted by school closures will bring their concerns to the polls.

Santorum, however, has also noticed that abortion policy is more salient in Pennsylvania than in other states. “One of the things that I’ve noticed in the polling in Pennsylvania is the abortion issue shows up higher,” he commented. “Because of the Dobbs decision, particularly among southeastern Pennsylvania suburban voters, I think it’s one of the reasons that Fetterman has held on. It’s one of the reasons that Democrats jumped on Oz’s answer about abortion during the debate, because they understand Pennsylvania, and particularly some of these key congressional district races out in the southeast.”

Although the race between Oz and Fetterman has generated significant media attention as the two major parties seek control of the Senate, the gubernatorial contest between Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Republican State Senator Doug Mastriano has made headlines as many outlets paint the latter candidate as a representative of “Christian nationalism.” Santorum said that despite his strong grassroots support, Mastriano’s relatively low degree of experience has enabled progressive reporters to caricature him.

“He’s a first term state senator who’s a long-term military guy. He’s a novice, he’s not a politician at all, and doesn’t understand it. Talking to reporters, he doesn’t trust them,” Santorum said. “And he’s in a situation where he’s sort of running a ghetto campaign without any money, and so they’re able to go out there and paint a picture without any pushback.”

Much reporting on Mastriano has been disingenuous, according to Santorum, because beltway journalists do not understand his values, while suburbanites in southeastern Pennsylvania are easily “spooked” by his persona. “He really is sort of a blue-collar guy who is very devout. He loves the country and he loves the Lord. So he’s an easy guy to caricature. How many people in the national media or the Democratic Party have faith as a huge part of their lives?” Santorum continued. “When they see someone like this, they’re the ‘other.’ It’s so funny how the Left always talks about how conservatives look at people as the ‘other’ while they look at Christians as ‘other.’ It’s very easy to caricature someone like him because of his strong faith.”

Mastriano has received little support from establishment Republicans even as Shapiro broke the commonwealth’s gubernatorial campaign spending record. The dynamic may lead conservative voters to reject Oz, particularly in rural portions of the state, according to Santorum.

“There’s a lot of people who are not happy with the national party, the Republican Governors Association. Everybody else has sort of turned their back on him and have supported Oz, who as you saw from the debate is certainly not a conservative,” Santorum remarked. “That could have an impact on Oz’s turnout in the sense that there could be some out there who were upset about how Mastriano was treated. Whether it’s large numbers or not, I can’t say. But I think there will be some interesting under-votes: the rural areas under-voting for Oz, the urban areas under-voting for Fetterman.”

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