On Wednesday, Democrat John Fetterman, who is running for US Senate in Pennsylvania, vowed that he will debate his opponent, Republican nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Fetterman suffered a stroke in May and subsequently stayed off the campaign trail for most of the summer and repeatedly dodged debates with Oz.
“We’re absolutely going to debate Dr. Oz, and that was really always our intent to do that,” Fetterman said. “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.”
Fetterman refused to give details of the debate, but said that it will occur “sometime in the middle to end of October” on a “major television station” in Pennsylvania. Fetterman added that his campaign is thinking of using a closed captioning monitor due to hearing issues resulting from his stroke.
“We’re just exploring that,” he said. “I have every ability to talk about all of these issues and have a full debate. And that’s really just the one lingering issue of the stroke — that some of my hearing was damaged a little bit, but it’s continuing to get better and better and better every day.”
Oz pointed out Fetterman’s refusal to provide details about the debate on social media, writing on Twitter, “We keep hearing that the Fetterman campaign is in debate talks with networks. What networks? He won’t say. What terms? He won’t say. John Fetterman sure has a lot of people speaking for him, but does very little speaking himself.”
Fetterman’s comments come shortly after his hometown newspaper published an editorial questioning his “ability to serve” after he pulled out of a previous debate with Oz, citing his recovery from his stroke.
The editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote that Fetterman’s refusal to debate and his “obvious struggles” with speech raises “legitimate concerns” about his health and fitness for office.
“If Mr. Fetterman is not well enough to debate his opponent, that raises serious concerns about his ability to serve as a United States senator,” the editorial board wrote. “Voters have a right to know whether their prospective senator can do the job—including handling the give-and-take of a vigorous debate.”
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