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Fetterman's wife Gisele shuts down reporter asking him about Pittsburgh bridge

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 10/20/2022 Nikki Schwab, Senior U.S. Political Reporter

Pennsylvania Democratic Senate hopeful John Fetterman's wife Gisele stepped in and shut down a reporter who asked the lieutenant governor if he was satisfied with the progress made of the downed Pittsburgh bridge.

'We're not here to do interviews, we're here to celebrate,' Gisele told reporter Kyle Mazza of UNF News, as the couple attended an event headlined by President Joe Biden at the worksite of the Fern Hollow Bridge - the site of the January bridge collapse. 

Fetterman has been using closed captioning to answer questions from journalists as he recovers from his May stroke, with a sit-down with NBC News garnering attention last week when reporter Dasha Burns said 'it wasn't clear he understood what I was saying,' when the two were making small talk before the intervirew started. 

Gisele criticized Burns, even demanding an apology. 

'I would love to see an apology towards the disability community from her and from her network for the damage they have caused,' she told The Independent in an interview

The fresh questions about Fetterman's health prompted the candidate to produce a new letter Wednesday from his doctor. 

Dr. Clifford Chen - who was revealed to be a Democratic donor - said Fetterman was recovering well, but still had some difficulties with 'auditory processing.' 

Pennsylvania Democratic Senate hopeful John Fetterman's (left) wife Gisele (right) stepped in and shut down a reporter who asked the lieutenant governor if he was satisfied with the progress made of the downed Pittsburgh bridge

Pennsylvania Democratic Senate hopeful John Fetterman's (left) wife Gisele (right) stepped in and shut down a reporter who asked the lieutenant governor if he was satisfied with the progress made of the downed Pittsburgh bridge
© Provided by Daily Mail

At Thursday's event, Fetterman ditched his trademark hoodie and put on a suit to greet Biden when the president arrived.  

At the top of his remarks Biden, whose microphone briefly didn't work, thanked Fetterman, the state's lieutenant governor, for running for Senate - where he's in a tight battle against Republican, Dr. Mehmet Oz. 

'I was saying something nice about you. That's why it went out,' Biden told Fetterman, referencing the misbehaving mic. 

To Gisele - who uses the acronym 'SLOP,' the second lady of Pennsylvania - Biden said: 'You're gonna, you're gonna be a great, a great lady in the Senate.' 

The president then went to tout the 'billion 200, a trillion, 200 billion dollars' infrastructure law, flubbing the dollar amount. 

The law, which Biden signed in November had a pricetage of $1.2 trillion, including $550 billion in new spending. 

'Instead of infrastructure week, which is a punch line for four years under my predecessor, it's infrastructure decade - a headline on my watch,' Biden boasted. 

President Joe Biden jogs over to talk to reporters Thursday morning before departing for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he'll return to the site of the Pittsburgh bridge collapse alongside Democratic Senate hopeful, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman

President Joe Biden jogs over to talk to reporters Thursday morning before departing for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he'll return to the site of the Pittsburgh bridge collapse alongside Democratic Senate hopeful, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman
© Provided by Daily Mail

Behind Biden was the worksite for the Fern Hollow Bridge, where on January 28 its predecessor, which was constructed in 1970, crashed into a ravine in Frick Park - taking a Port Authority bus with it. 

Nobody was killed in the incident, but at least 10 were injured. 

Since then, the bridge has been almost nearly rebuilt - and is expected to be completed in December - much faster than the two to five years it usually takes to finish a project of that caliber. 

While the funds allocated in the law weren't directly used for the Pittsburgh bridge project, Pennsylvania was able to finance the construction and not interfere with other projects due to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law dollars coming in, the White House said.     

'The governor knew he could count on the new law to fund other projects to ensure the projects he had already started for infrastructure in the state would not be slowed down in the process,' the president explained in his remarks. 

'The result: Pennsylvania's been able to repair Fern Hollow Bridge in less than a year and by Christmas, God willing, we'll be walking - I'm coming back to walk over this sucker,' Biden said. 

Biden is set to deliver remarks at the site of the nearly completed Fern Hollow Bridge, which replaces the bridge that collapsed in January, taking a Port Authority bus and several vehicles with it

Biden is set to deliver remarks at the site of the nearly completed Fern Hollow Bridge, which replaces the bridge that collapsed in January, taking a Port Authority bus and several vehicles with it
© Provided by Daily Mail

He then laughed and said his staff told him before Thursday's trip: 'You realize how many times you've been to Pittsburgh.' 

With the president joking, 'don't tell them in Scranton,' the Pennsylvania city where he was born. 

Appearing alongside Biden was Fetterman's Senate primary opponent, Rep. Conor Lamb. 

Fetterman easily won the Democratic Senate primary in May, despite suffering from a stroke just days before. 

His stroke recovery has become a central campaign issue as he vies for Pennsylvania's open Senate seat against Oz, in a race now classified as a 'toss-up.' 

On Wednesday, after previously not committing to doing so, Fetterman released a new doctor's letter saying he was still having some issues with 'auditory processing' but that his 'communication is significantly improved.' 

An NBC interview last week that showed how Fetterman used closed captioning, renewed the attention on his stroke. 

President Joe Biden expressed stopped at a Primanti Brothers Thursday afternoon in Moon Township as he departed Pittsburgh to hold a closed door fundraiser with Senate hopeful John Fetterman in Philadelphia

President Joe Biden expressed stopped at a Primanti Brothers Thursday afternoon in Moon Township as he departed Pittsburgh to hold a closed door fundraiser with Senate hopeful John Fetterman in Philadelphia
© Provided by Daily Mail

In recent days, Fetterman has been hopscotching the state - including to the red counties of Butler and Cambria - and delivering remarks at rallies, where he addresses the 'elephant in the room,' his health, and makes stroke jokes in an attempt to put voters at ease. 

After the Pittsburgh speech Biden headed to Philadelphia with the Fettermans. 

Fetterman won't, however, hold a rally alongside Biden - with the president instead holding a closed door fundraiser for the Senate hopeful.

While some reporters will be present, cameras will not be invited inside. 

Earlier, Biden pushed back when a reporter pointed out that not many candidates have appeared with him in the run-up to the November 8 midterm elections. 

'That's not true, there have been 15. Count, kid, count,' Biden said on the South Lawn Thursday morning, before boarding Marine One. 

He also said he planned to hold more campaign events with Democrats in the next three weeks. 

At a stop at Primanti Brothers in Moon Township, en route to the Pittsburgh airport Biden said he felt 'good' about the forthcoming election, which historically could see his party lose both chambers of Congress. 

While retaining the House would be more difficult, Biden said he believed Democrats could hold onto the Senate. 

'I think so. It ain't over 'til it's over,' the president expressed. 

Fetterman is the Democrat most likely to flip a Republican-held Senate seat, as Pennsylvania's GOP Sen. Pat Toomey is retiring. 

But other Democratic seats are in danger, especially in the swing states of Georgia and Nevada. 

Asked if he planned to travel to those locations - to boost Democratic incumbents, Sens. Raphael Warnock and Catherine Cortez Masto, respectively, Biden answered: 'I've got about 16 to 18 requests.' 

'We're trying to work it out now,' Biden said.  

With less than three weeks to Election Day, the White House has played coy about the president's campaign travel schedule - as his sluggish approval numbers have made some vulnerable Democrats jittery about appearing alongside him. 

When asked for specifics, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre remained tight lipped on board Air Force One Thursday. 

'I don't have any travel to preview for you at this time,' she said. 

At Primanti's, where the president went in to get take-out, he motioned to diners when asked if his economic message was resonating with voters.  

'Well, we'll find out. You'll have to ask these folks right here,' Biden said. 

One diner piped up, 'Don't ask us!'  

He also affirmed that he'd be able to work with Republicans if they took over Congress. 

'I've always been able to do that,' the president said. 'I got a lot of bipartisan stuff passed you guys never thought I never could have passed.'

As the president left one diner asked the reporters in the room, 'Why didn't you ask about the border.' 

'All these guys want to do is eat their lunch,' Biden said, putting his hand on one male diner's shoulder as he exited the establishment. 

Primanti's sandwiches are a Pittsburgh staple, served with a layer of coleslaw and French fries stuffed between giant pieces of bread. 

Biden ordered the 'Pitts-burger' - beef patty, lettuce, tomato, slaw and fries - and tipped $40, the White House said.  

Biden was supposed to travel to Orlando in late September for a political rally, but that event was canceled due to Hurricane Ian. 

It was never rescheduled. 

Before that, Biden headlined a Democratic National Committee rally in suburban Maryland in late August alongside the Democrats' gubernatorial pick, Wes Moore. 

Moore is running against a super Trumpy Republican, Dan Cox, with FiveThirtyEight giving the Democrat a 99 percent chance of winning. 

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