Democrat John Fetterman is committing to at least one debate with his Republican opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz, in Pennsylvania’s race for U.S. Senate.
In a Wednesday afternoon article authored by Politico’s Holly Otterbein, Fetterman said voters will see him on the debate stage with Oz “sometime in the middle to end of October.” A “major television station” in the Keystone State will host the debate, Fetterman said.
“Early voting typically begins 4-6 weeks before the election and ends at the mail-in ballot request deadline,” the University of Pennsylvania notes, meaning voting will be well underway by the time the candidates take the debate stage.
“We’re absolutely going to debate Dr. Oz, and that was really always our intent to do that,” he added.
Fetterman, who suffered a stroke in May, has struggled in campaign events since getting back on the trail and stated that he has “auditory processing” complications stemming from the medical emergency. He told MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle last week that he “might miss a word every now and then” or he “might mush two together” due to these issues, and his team is currently working on accommodations for this for next month’s showdown, according to Politico.
“It was just simply only ever been about addressing some of the lingering issues of the stroke, the auditory processing, and we’re going to be able to work that out,” he said.
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) September 6, 2022
Oz has already committed to five debates and had blasted Fetterman for his refusal to commit to a single one up until Wednesday. The pair would have squared off Tuesday night in a KDKA debate had Fetterman accepted the invitation, but he declined to attend. Oz’s team announced several snarky concessions to Fetterman’s camp for the unrealized September 6 matchup and offered to “pay for any additional medical personnel he might need to have on standby.”
Fetterman framed the concessions as mocking “a stroke survivor” and said he “chose not to participate in this farce,” as Fox News noted.
Despite the narrative that Fetterman aimed to create that would paint Oz as insensitive, he could not escape the pressure from others to debate, including from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), whose seat he is vying for. On Tuesday, Toomey offered Fetterman his best wishes in recovery but said his refusal to debate was because he was either not well enough or because he was scared to defend his radical positions.
“He’s either not as well as he claims to be, or he’s afraid to be called out for the radical policies he supports. It’s one or the other,” Toomey explained, seemingly referencing Fetterman’s far-left criminal-friendly record.
Accompanying Toomey’s comments on Tuesday were a pair of op-eds from local and national media that called for Fetterman to accept a debate challenge. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s editorial board wrote that his excuses for dodging a matchup were insufficient.
The Republican’s antics have given Mr. Fetterman a plausible out: He won’t share the stage with someone who has behaved so shamefully. But that won’t cut it. Voters have a right to know whether their prospective senator can do the job — including handling the give-and-take of a vigorous debate.
The New York Post published an op-ed entitled “John Fetterman must debate and let Pennsylvania voters decide if he’s up to the job,” which was authored by the National Review’s editor-in-chief, Rich Lowry.
Lowry asserted that “Fetterman should have to show and not tell.”