Fetterman, Obama criticize Republican rhetoric and urge Pittsburghers to vote at rally on Pitt’s campus


Pamela Smith | Visual Editor

Former president Barack Obama waves to the crowd after speaking at a rally for Democratic senate candidate John Fetterman in Schenley Plaza Saturday afternoon.

By Punya Bhasin, News Editor

More than 6,000 people gathered in Schenley Plaza Saturday morning for a rally with Senate candidate John Fetterman, former President Barack Obama and others. The candidates’ message was clear — vote in the midterm election on Tuesday.

The rally, hosted by the Pennsylvania Democrat’s All In PA group, brought in a swarm of people, with the line spanning for blocks along Forbes Avenue. As the midterm election approaches on Tuesday, Fetterman’s campaign sought Obama’s help to cinch the Senate seat against his opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz, in an extremely close race. FiveThirtyEight puts Fetterman .4% ahead of Oz. 

Several candidates and elected officials spoke before Obama, including Congressional candidate Summer Lee, U.S. House 17th District Democratic candidate Chris Deluzio, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey and state Sen. Lindsey Williams, who is running to keep her seat in the 38th District. 

Photos: Fetterman, Obama rally in Schenley Plaza

Fetterman said he was appreciative of Obama’s support in this election and cited his opponents choice to rally with former President Donald Trump in Latrobe later today. Fetterman also said while he’s running to “serve Pennsylvania,” Oz wants to “use Pennsylvania.”

“Dr. Oz is going to be standing with Donald Trump on the stage and I’m going to be proud to be standing with a president that is 100% sedition-free,” Mr. Fetterman said.

Fettterman said if elected he plans to protect Pennsylvanians by protecting LGBTQ+ rights and abortion access. 

“We need to protect marriage equality and also given a chance we must codify Roe v. Wade,” Fetterman said. “That choice belongs only between a woman and a choice with her doctor.” 

Obama echoed Fettterman’s critiques of Oz and warned attendees about the dangers of division created by some Republican candidates. Obama also coined Oz a “snake oil salesman.”

“This habit we have of demonizing political opponents, of saying crazy stuff, it creates a dangerous climate,” Obama said. “You’ve got politicians who work not to bring people together but to stir up division and to make us angry and afraid of one another just for their own advantage.”

Obama said he supports Fetterman because of his track record of representing his constituents. He said Fetterman’s stroke, which has caused concern among some voters about his ability to serve in office, didn’t alter Fetterman’s values or policy positions. 

“John has been fighting for other people his whole life,” Obama said. “John doesn’t just talk the talk, he has walked the walk alongside you, so you know that he means what he says. John will help build an economy that works for everybody.”

“You also know that John is tough…he knows what it’s like to get knocked down and then get back up,” Obama continued. “John’s stroke did not change who he is, it didn’t change what he cares about, it didn’t change his values, his heart, his fight, it didn’t change who he will represent when he gets to the United States senate — he will represent you and that’s what you deserve.

Obama urged the crowd to change their “boos” in reference to Trump and other republican policies into votes.

“If you’re frustrated right now, don’t complain, don’t boo, don’t tune out, go vote,” Obama said. “Get off your couch and vote, put down your phones and vote. Vote for leaders who know how to fight for that inclusive, hopeful forward looking America that we believe in.” 

Many Pitt students attended the rally including Melanie Scanga, a junior film and media studies major, who said the rally was exactly what Pitt needed.

“I think it’s exactly what we needed to hear three days before the election,” Scanga said. “I really hope the message resonates with students. We’re blessed to live in a country where we can vote and to not use that right is a shame.”

Sofie Brutsaert, a junior neuroscience major, also attended the event and said she decided to attend because of Obama, and appreciated his support of Fetterman. 

“It felt good and really empowering to attend, and I liked that Obama supported Fetterman because I think it does help students and undecided voters consider voting for the Democrats more,” Brutsaert said. 

Obama urged people to vote for an America that is “more fair and more equal and more just and more free.” He added that the midterm elections could “change the course of this nation.” 

“Somebody here mentioned we’re setting our clocks back tomorrow,” Obama said. “On Tuesday, let’s make sure that our country doesn’t get set back 50 years.”