Pennsylvania lieutenant government and senator candidate John Fetterman speaks at the United Steelworkers of America Local Union 2227 Labor Day tour on September 5, 2022 in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images
Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman on Wednesday committed to the same debate with his Republican opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz.
The announcement comes after weeks of mounting pressure from Oz’s campaign, which has questioned whether Fetterman is using his recent stroke as an excuse to avoid a public face.
Fetterman is “either healthy and he is dodging the debate because he doesn’t want to answer for his radical left positions, or he is too sick to participate in the debate,” said a celebrity doctor backed by former President Donald Trump. Oz said at a press conference Tuesday.
In a statement Wednesday, Fetterman responded, “We are absolutely going to debate Dr. Oz, and it was always our intention to do so.”
“It’s only been about addressing some of the lingering issues of my stroke, auditory processing, and we’re going to be able to make it work,” Fetterman’s statement said.
The Democratic lieutenant governor said the debate would take place “sometime from mid to late October – as in each of the last two Pennsylvania Senate races – on a major television station to reach voters across the Commonwealth.”
Details are still being finalized, Fetterman said.
“But let’s be clear that this has never really been about a debate for Dr. Oz,” he said. “This whole thing about Dr. Oz and his team making fun of me for having a stroke because they have nothing else.”
Politico first reported Fetterman’s announcement in an interview on Wednesday.
Fetterman’s campaign last month refused to participate in an early September debate against Oz, with the Republican’s campaign mocking his status as a stroke survivor and accusing him of acting in bad faith when he Offered to “pay for any additional medical personnel”. to be on standby.”
Fetterman said in a statement at the time that he was “eager” to debate Oz, adding, “As I recover from this stroke and improve my auditory processing and speech, I meet people from Pennsylvania.” I continue.”
Fetterman said he “nearly died” after suffering a stroke in May, days before winning the Democratic nomination to compete for the Pennsylvania Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Senator Pat Tommy.
The major swing state Senate seat provides a major pickup opportunity for both parties, as Democrats fight to hold on to their razor-thin Senate majority and Republicans push to grab control of the chamber.
The stroke kept Fetterman off the campaign trail for three months. But race polls show he has an edge over Oz, who is troubled by attacks that characterize him as an elitist with a stronger ties to New Jersey than Pennsylvania.
Fetterman held his first public rally since a stroke last month and did just four interviews with media organizations including Politico.
The outlet reported that during the 17-minute videoconference, Fetterman “sometimes missed words while speaking”, but “spoke at a normal pace” and discussed a range of issues. “He did not request to see the questions in advance,” Politico reported.