John Fetterman Addresses Stroke to Delco Crowd in Wawa-Themed Rally

The Democratic candidate for Senate spoke to a crowded gym at Nether Providence Elementary School in mid-October.

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Fetterman smiles over the crowd in NPE gym at October rally.

Rhys Hals '23, Contributor

John Fetterman, the democratic senatorial candidate in the rapidly approaching midterms, made a Wawa-themed appearance in the Nether Providence Elementary gym on Saturday, October 15. 

Fetterman recently suffered a stroke, and it has led to some skepticism about his ability to serve in Congress. Within minutes after taking the NPE stage, Fetterman addressed the “elephant in the room,” giving a shout-out to Penn Medicine for saving his life. He described lingering auditory processing problems from the stroke.

“Sometimes I will miss a word, and I’ll mush two words together,” he said. “I guarantee there’s probably at least one person in this audience that’s filming me, looking for how many missed words.”

Fetterman wove digs at his Republican opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz, into his explanation of the long-term effects of his stroke. 

“What kind of a doctor who wants somebody that was sick not to get better?,” he said. 

Fetterman was one of nine speakers, all of whom pushed the theme of relatability, making quips about the informal dress code and their love for Wawa. Each guest spoke on a different message relating to the November eighth election. Next to Fetterman, Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05) and Delaware Senator Chris Coons were the big names of the day. 

Leanne Krueger, the State Representative for District 161—most of Delaware County—spoke to the packed gym about the importance of local elections. She emphasized her strong connections to the community, noting that her son’s math teacher was in attendance. 

Crime has been a big topic of debate this election season, and democrats catch a lot of criticism for being too soft on crime, Fetterman especially. Jack Stollsteimer, the Delco District Attorney, spoke about crime, stating that democrats are not soft on crime; they’re tough on the causes of crime as well as the individuals.

Fetterman’s plan to free non-violent drug offenders has interested senior Ryan Kedanis, who attended the rally.

“It’s not very often that there’s an opportunity to get to see somebody like that in Walliswat, and I thought, why not?” Kedanis, who is not eligible to vote, said.

Kedanis recommends that voting high schoolers vote for Fetterman. “Compared to Dr. Oz, specifically, his stances on issues like health care and things and student debt are a lot more helpful to students.”

The rally demographic took Kedanis by surprise. Many rally goers were older, and the soundtrack throughout targeted such a demographic, with 70s classic rock playing between speakers. 

The gym was alive with chants and black and white Fetterman signs throughout the two-hour rally. “Everyone seemed to love Fetterman,” Kedanis said.