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John Fetterman during an interview with NBC News.
John Fetterman during an interview with NBC News.NBC News

What we learned from the NBC News Fetterman interview

Fetterman's interview with NBC News touched on a spate of topics including his stroke recovery and the policies at stake in his race.


Pennsylvania Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman sat down with NBC News' Dasha Burns last week for a wide-ranging discussion about his stroke recovery and the issues at stake in his Senate election against Republican Mehmet Oz.

You can watch the full, 30-minute interview below but here are some of the biggest takeaways on his health and policy:

The lingering effects of his stroke

Fetterman addressed the trajectory of the recovery from his stroke, telling NBC News that he has an "auditory processing" issue that causes him to sometimes not hear clearly. It's because of that issue that Fetterman used closed captioning to conduct the interview.

"I believe I'm gonna be able to serve effectively," Fetterman said.

"As long — as I have the captioning, I'm able to understand exactly what's being asked. But even after the stroke, immediately after that, I was able to read everything and I haven't lost any memories or anything like that. It's really just the lingering issue that I have."

Transparency on his health and medical records

Fetterman's campaign declined NBC News' requests to review his medical records or interview his physicians, a decision that Fetterman was asked about during the interview. He pointed to a doctor's note that was released after his stroke, about six months ago, and that he's been told by his doctors he is "fit to do it."

"I feel like we have been very transparent in a lotta different ways. When — our doctor has already given a letter saying that I'm able to serve and to be running," he said.

"You can't be any more transparent than standing up on a stage with 3,000 people and having a speech without a teleprompter and just being — and everything and yourself out like that."

Commits to debating Oz

Despite a back and forth over the rules for the upcoming debate, Fetterman told NBC News "Of course I'm gonna show up on the 25th" to debate Oz.

On Biden's recent marijuana policy moves

Fetterman responded to President Joe Biden's recent decision to pardon thousands convicted for simple marijuana possession under federal law, and to reevaluate how the drug is classified by the federal government.

"It's gonna change the nation, in a way, in terms of our conversation about marijuana," he said. "It should be legalized and people shouldn’t have had their careers damaged for having, just simply using a plant, and using it in a way that it’s legal in some states or it’s illegal in others."

Fetterman addresses attacks on crime

Crime has emerged as a flash point in this race, with Republicans attacking Fetterman's decisions as the head of the state parole board.

"I believe in redemption," Fetterman said, comparing the idea of commuting prisoners who have served long terms on good behavior to Morgan Freeman's character in the movie The Shawshank Redemption.

And on attacks that his record on pardons means he is soft on crime, he added that as mayor of Braddock, Pa., "we funded the police and created a strong partnership between the police and the community."

Doesn't commit on whether to raise mandatory minimums for fentanyl dealers

When asked whether he would support a measure to reduce the quantity of fentanyl possession needed to trigger a mandatory minimum, Fetterman replied that he'd have to see the language of the legislation before commenting.

But he added that the "we haven't been able to arrest our way out of" the drug issue, although "the pushers and the dealers, that's a completely different issue. And they deserve to be in prison."

Fetterman calls again to codify Roe vs. Wade

Fetterman criticized his opponent, Oz, over abortion, a central argument from the Democrat in this race. As for the policy prescription, he said he would support codifying Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protected abortion access before viability, but did allow states to enact some restrictions after that point.

"Roe v. Wade is, should never have fallen. And that should be codified into law," he said.

"Roe v. Wade: That's the way it should have been, that's the way it was for the last 50 years, and that's the way it should be," he added, before saying he supports eliminating the filibuster to "deliver that" if elected.

Fetterman on fracking

On the issue of energy security and fracking, Fetterman addressed his previous comments about a moratorium on fracking. He said he never supported a full moratorium, but one until "they made the appropriate changes and regulations to make sure that" the wastewater was treated correctly.

"After the laws have changed, then I support fracking. I support the energy security we should have in the United States."

Republicans have criticized him on the issue, arguing that he should be fully embracing fracking as a tool toward American energy independence.