decision 2022

Fetterman Agrees to Debate Oz in Pa. Senate Race

One day after Republican Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz publicly called on his Democratic rival, John Fetterman, to participate in a debate in their high-profile Pennsylvania race, Fetterman said he would do so in October.

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What to Know

  • Republican Mehmet Oz, also known as Dr. Oz, and Democrat John Fetterman, Pennsylvania's current lieutenant governor, are the nominees for U.S. Senate in the November midterm elections.
  • They are vying to replace outgoing U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican who is resigning office after two terms.
  • Their race, combined with the open election for governor, makes Pennsylvania one of the most watched states in the midterm elections, which mark the halfway point of President Biden's first term.

Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman of Pennsylvania will participate in just one debate, his campaign said Wednesday, after weeks of his Republican rival, Dr. Mehmet Oz, pressuring Fetterman and aggressively questioning the severity of his lingering health problems from a stroke.

Fetterman's campaign said he will participate in a televised debate in mid-to-late October. The campaign gave no other details, including why he would agree to just one debate. Oz's campaign immediately dubbed it a “secret debate,” with no details on when or where.

As the general election grows closer, Oz, a celebrity heart surgeon and political novice, has begun stepping up his questioning of Fetterman’s fitness for office after he suffered the stroke in May. Fetterman’s campaign has said Oz was operating in bad faith by insisting on debates and said his motivations were really “about mocking John for having a stroke.”

Fetterman, the state's lieutenant governor, and Oz are vying to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey in a race Democrats see as one of their best chances nationally to flip a Republican-held seat. The winner in the battleground state could help decide the chamber’s partisan control next year.

Mehmet Oz (left) and John Fetterman (right)
Mehmet Oz (left) and John Fetterman (right)

Oz, who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, has accused Fetterman of lying about the seriousness of his stroke. Fetterman has said that he almost died after suffering the stroke just days before the Democratic primary.

Fetterman’s campaign had previously said he was willing to debate but wants a debate that can accommodate the lingering effects of his stroke, in particular his diminished auditory processing speed — he cannot always respond quickly to what he’s hearing. In brief public speaking events, Fetterman also has struggled to speak fluidly.

It was not immediately clear what accommodations Fetterman would be looking for in his debate appearance, but has used closed-captioning in video interviews with reporters.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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