Fetterman charts a different path, breaks with fellow Democrats in the Senate

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Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., cuts a different figure in the U.S. Senate.

And we’re not referring to his hulking, 6-foot-7, nose tackle frame. Or Fetterman’s signature, ever-present hoodie.

We’re talking about Fetterman crafting a distinct image in the Senate. Not a ‘progressive,’ as most voters thought. A Democrat who is willing to endorse most of H.R. 2, the House’s strict border control bill. A Democrat who opposes the left wing of his party when it comes to Israel and Hamas. And a senator who, unlike most of his Democratic colleagues, skewers indicted Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. – in the most frank terms.

‘A real sleazeball,’ said Fetterman of Menendez.

After his stroke, Fetterman struggled to process audio and words. He now uses an app that presents the exact words you are saying to him on his phone. The app then also shows the words Fetterman speaks. The captions help Fetterman take part in conversations and understand what is being said around him.

Fox News had the chance to sit down with Fetterman for an interview. The exchange has been lightly edited for context and clarity.

: In your short period of time in the Senate, you have sometimes plowed a different road than some of your Democratic colleagues on different issues. Talk about how you arrived at those decisions that differ from what some people expected from you politically when you came to the Senate.

: I know that some people were caught by surprise. And, you know, even when I just said, you know, in passing that I’m not a progressive, I’ve been saying that for years, actually. I’ve just really been committed to really being on what I thought it was like the right side on these things. And no, maybe politically it might be less popular with our base.

: It kind of seemed like, when we saw the change, when you and I first talked, it was on the border and border security. That was something that you differed from some of your Democratic colleagues.

: When you started just following the numbers that are coming again and then when you’ve reached 200,000 or 250,000 folks that are encountered at the border – I mean that’s astonishing. And then just putting that in the context of Pennsylvania. I was like, ‘Oh my goodness. That’s nearly the size of Pittsburgh.’ And that’s our second-largest city. You can be very pro-immigration, but also demand and require that we have a secure border there as well too. I don’t know why that’s really controversial for a Democrat or any American to be pro-immigration.

: Another area where you differed was on the Middle East. And just the other day, I guess you talked to some of the Republicans saying, could you sit in on the meeting when they had a virtual meeting with (Israeli Prime Minister) Benjamin Netanyahu? Who did you approach on that? What did they say?

: I was very disappointed that our caucus didn’t have the opportunity to do that. I really wanted to hear from Netanyahu. In fact, I even asked the Republicans, you know, back channels, like, ‘Hey, can I just sit there? And I don’t even have to (ask) any questions.’ And I’ve always been incredibly surprised why we’re not talking about where this was because of Hamas and the things that they’ve done. And that why there isn’t a protest kind of a surge to demand that Hamas surrender on this. If you really want to end all of the misery and the death and the destruction – if they would just surrender, it would end tomorrow. Release everybody (the hostages). Send them home. And that’s been very frustrating. And then we’re talking about now there’s 31,000 Palestinians that were were killed. And what you’re not talking about (is) 13,000 or more are actually Hamas fighters on that. So why aren’t you breaking that out as well too? And then if you do and talk about the casualty ratio, it’s actually very clear that this isn’t a genocide or that the Israelis are targeting civilians. In fact, the only ones that target civilians? That’s Hamas.

: Here’s a name and I want you to respond: Bob Menendez.

: At this point, it’s almost moot. His trial is in less than two months from now and that’s going to address that. I can’t imagine how with the kinds of evidence. I also remind everybody to remember that this is his second trip to the prom. You know, he barely just got out from that. And now he’s been credibly accused of being a foreign agent for three nations. In fact, two of them are critical and negotiation partners in the Gaza situation with Hamas. And how is this individual allowed to attend classified briefings on that? It’s astonishing. And it’s been frustrating where someone’s more concerned that I could wear a hoodie (in the Senate). That’s why this seems to be more urgent. Making sure that the Senate reputation isn’t damaged.

: Why do you think that members have kind of not called for him to be expelled or gone as far as you? You’ve been the most outspoken person when it comes to Menendez.

: I don’t know. But what I can say is that (former Rep. George) Santos, R-N.Y., was expelled and Republicans did the right thing on that. That actually cost them a seat. So I thought that was a principled stand.

: When you came into the Senate, you had the health issues on the campaign trail. Then you were hospitalized for a while. Talk about the challenges that posed as you were trying to represent the people of Pennsylvania, take on this new job understanding the folkways of the Senate. That’s a lot.

: Those health issues (were) weaponized and it was categorized as something that really (wasn’t) actually true. We’re having a very normal conversation. I’m using captioning right now to fully participate on that. No different than you have glasses. I’m able to process that fully.

: Show our viewers how this (captioning system) works. That (device) translates what I’m saying. And then you see what you’re saying as well.

: Exactly. And this allows me – just the way perhaps you wear your glasses – to read and to fully process things. I want to make sure that I can be precise when you ask. I have the captioning. And that’s just a tool. That allows me to fully participate in interviews or conversations with my children or with my colleagues anywhere.

: Give us a sense of how you’re feeling now compared to last February, last January, when you came in. All the stress of joining the Senate. Being hospitalized. And then how you feel now a year later.

: I feel great. I feel very fortunate, every day, to be a part of this. I wanted to make sure that depression and mental health (are) part of a conversion. And that’s a red county, a blue county situation. I know that regardless of where you are politically or anyone watching this right now (who’s suffering from depression), it’s not you. You probably have someone that you love or know or work with that has an issue, whether it’s depression or anything like that. And I would encourage (you) to please consider getting help. And it’s an important conversation that we have to have. We have in this nation now, over 50,000 Americans (who) have chosen tragically to take their lives. That’s an epidemic. And that’s the highest level ever. This is a conversation that maybe (is) not a political winner. But that’s one we should have. And I’m proud to be part of that and leading that.

: Sen. Fetterman, thank you for your time. Thank you for joining us.

: It’s always a pleasure to speak with you. Thank you

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