Pennsylvania Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman stood by his much-criticized performance during the only debate against his Republican opponent Mehmet Oz (R).

In a recent interview, Fetterman, who is also Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor, said he knew the task would not be easy considering his struggle recovering from a stroke in May.

Many commentators wondered aloud whether he was fit to serve after the debate.

“I just always understood that it wasn’t going to be easy,” he told CNN’s This Morning. “I am five months into recovery from that, but I thought it was important that I show up and I did it. And at the end of the day, we did, I think, make some important points.”

He made similar remarks last week during a rally, saying he had got knocked down by the stroke but now he’s gotten back up.

Although the episode is being mostly exploited by Republicans, Democrats also have reservedly expressed concern about Fetterman’s performance.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) was caught on a hot mic telling President Joe Biden he thought the debate “didn’t hurt too much” the Democratic party’s strategy to flip the Senate seat in Pennsylvania.

Fetterman said it was already expected that he would face challenges to participate on the debate and confirmed he would be ready to take on the responsibilities of a Senator, if elected.

“It was no secret I was going to miss some words. I was going to mush some words together,” he said.

He did not provide a comprehensive medical records, but his campaign has released two letters from doctors assessing his medical condition.

In the most recent one, Dr. Clifford Chen wrote Fetterman is “recovering well from his stroke” and “has no work restrictions and can work full duty in public office.”

In recent weeks, Fetterman’s lead in polls has shrink and the race is now considered a toss-up.

The Democrat candidate celebrated that the debate was an opportunity to highlights controversial statements made by Dr. Oz, especially his remarks that “local political leaders” should be involved in decisions about abortion.

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