By Jack Phillips
Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) stated that former President Donald Trump still enjoys significant support in Pennsylvania, adding that he sees “Trump signs everywhere.”
In an interview with The New York Times, Mr. Fetterman was asked about the former president’s indictment and whether there would be political fallout in the Keystone State among his supporters.
“It doesn’t matter. I’m a senator and I’m not sure how many times he’s been indicted. He’s been impeached twice. Has that changed anything? You’re still seeing Trump signs everywhere in Pennsylvania. You have to respect his strength in all of that,” the first-term Democratic senator told the paper.
Mr. Fetterman predicted that Mr. Trump would be “competitive” in Pennsylvania in the next election. However, he suggested that the former president would have to outperform in 2024, as compared with 2020 or 2016.
“Trump would be very competitive in Pennsylvania. But Trump has to perform above his ceiling. I think there’s a hard ceiling in Pennsylvania he can’t get past,” he suggested, without elaborating. Mr. Fetterman delivered those remarks after the former president was indicted for a second time by the Department of Justice for allegedly mishandling classified documents.
His comments come after a Quinnipiac University poll estimated that Mr. Trump and President Joe Biden are neck-in-neck in Pennsylvania. Mr. Trump won Pennsylvania’s electors in 2016, while Mr. Biden was declared the victor in 2020 amid allegations of election fraud.
The poll, released in late June, showed that in a hypothetical match between Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden, the former Republican president is ahead by 1 percentage point. About 94 percent of Democratic voters back Mr. Biden, while 89 percent of Republicans back Mr. Trump. About 51 percent of independents back Mr. Trump, and 37 percent back Mr. Biden, it found.
At the national level, polls indicate that Mr. Trump is still far ahead of other GOP candidates by a wide margin. According to a NY Times/Siena poll released on Monday, Mr. Trump had 54 percent, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had 17 percent, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy had 2 percent, former Vice President Mike Pence had 3 percent, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley had 3 percent, and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) received 3 percent of the support.
As for Mr. Biden, a poll last week from Marquette shows he has similar levels of support among Democratic voters. The poll shows the president with 54 percent, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. with 14 percent, and Marianne Williamson with 6 percent.
Mr. Fetterman, who was elected in 2022 after suffering a stroke on the campaign trail, claimed that the president’s age should not be a concern. Previous polls have shown that an increasing number of voters have expressed alarm about his age.
“I’m not concerned about his age. And even if I was, who cares? There’s nothing you can do about his age,” Mr. Fetterman, who was treated for clinical depression earlier this year, told the NY Times. “I’ve spent enough time around him. He’s sharp, he’s aware, he is absolutely up to the task. I’ll be doing whatever his campaign asks of me. I know Pennsylvania, I’ve won Pennsylvania. I’ll be helping with whatever he asks.”
The freshman senator, meanwhile, also made reference to his six-week hospitalization for depression. After he suffered a stroke last year, Mr. Fetterman appeared to suffer from cognitive issues, namely during his debate with GOP candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz for the Senate race.
“In my own situation, in my very lowest, I started thinking about self-harm,” Mr. Fetterman told the NY Times, which made note of communication struggles between the reporter and the senator as he attempted to answer questions. “And I realized that if I do harm myself, I will leave behind for my children a blueprint that, if something happens with you, that’s the answer. I can’t do that to anyone.”
He continued to say: “I’ll never understand it. I don’t know why my wife married me. In the movie ‘Groundhog Day,’ Bill Murray’s character says something like, ‘You think I’m arrogant? No, I don’t even like me.’ That’s me. I don’t even like me. That’s the truth.”
In February, before his treatment for depression, Mr. Fetterman was also hospitalized after he reported feeling lightheaded while attending a Democratic retreat, his office said. He was released several days after that incident, his office confirmed at the time.
His absence from the Senate caused him to miss 53 of 64 Senate roll call votes in February and March of this year, according to Fox News. Despite the medical issues, his office and doctors have said that Mr. Fetterman has “no work restrictions” and “can work full duty in public office.”