John Fetterman Tears Up Reflecting on Being ‘Ridiculed and Made Fun of’ over Disability

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 7: Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., is seen during a vote in the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, September 7, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) teared up during a committee hearing on Thursday as he reflected on how he has been “ridiculed and made fun of” over his speech disability.

Fetterman became emotional at a U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging where witnesses with disabilities testified before the committee. Fetterman said disabilities and accessibility have been a “very personal issue” for him and then showed an iPhone transcription app he relies on to communicate with others.

Fetterman has had trouble communicating since suffering a stroke in the weeks leading up to the Pennsylvania Democrat senate primary. 

As Breitbart News detailed:

The freshman Senator from Pennsylvania suffered a stroke just days before the Democrat primary last year, though he still handily won the nomination. In the months that followed, Fetterman stayed out of the public eye while a general election race with Republican nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz approached, and public scrutiny ensued.

Fetterman dodged debates for months, prompting local and national newspaper editorial boards to pressure him to take the stage with Oz. When he finally began making public appearances, his trouble with communicating and speaking became alarmingly apparent, and at their lone debate, Fetterman relied on closed captioning to adequately understand the moderators and his opponent.

“This is my iPhone, and this is a transcription service that allows me to fully participate in this meeting and conversations with my children and interacting with my my staff,” Fetterman said as he showed off the application. “I had a stroke about 18 months ago. You know, and I have lost my ability to fully process language.”

“And it’s profound to know though, that I never really considered that without this kind of technology. I couldn’t watch television. And I can’t imagine if I didn’t have this kind of a bridge to allow me to communicate with other people effectively,” he added.

Fetterman said living with a disability has made him more empathetic. 

He then teared up as he reflected on how he has been “ridiculed and made fun of” over his disability because he operates in the political realm. 

“Because I live in a political environment. I was ridiculed and made fun of because I wasn’t able to process things sometimes or say things I’m so sorry that I’m sure many of you had to go through this kind of thing,” the Democrat senator said as he began to tear up. 

“I was lucky that I was — I was lucky to go through my life — the vast majority that with this kind of disability that I have, but, but again, I can’t imagine and how, the challenges and I and I admire, you know, everyone that has to kind of live with these kinds of struggles and prevail over them,” Fetterman said. 

Jordan Dixon-Hamilton is a reporter for Breitbart News. Write to him at or follow him on Twitter.


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