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John Fetterman says he’ll debate Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania Senate race

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Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. and senatorial candidate John Fetterman speaks at a Labor Day visit to United Steelworkers of America Local Union 2227 in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania on September 5, 2022.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

Pennsylvania Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman on Wednesday committed to a single debate along with his Republican rival, Dr. Mehmet Oz.

The announcement got here 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 faceoff.

Fetterman “is either healthy and he’s dodging the talk because he doesn’t need to answer for his radical left positions, or he’s too sick to take part in the talk,” Oz, a star doctor endorsed by former President Donald Trump, said at a press conference Tuesday.

In a press release Wednesday, Fetterman responded, “We’re absolutely going to debate Dr. Oz, and it was all the time our intent to try this.”

“It has simply only ever been about addressing a number of the lingering problems with my stroke, the auditory processing, and we will find a way to work that out,” Fetterman’s statement said.

The Democratic lieutenant governor added that the talk will probably be “sometime in the center to finish of October — as each of the past two Pennsylvania Senate races have — on a serious television station to succeed in voters across the Commonwealth.”

Details are still being finalized, Fetterman said.

“But let’s be clear this has never really been about debates for Dr. Oz,” he added. “This whole thing has been about Dr. Oz and his team mocking me for having a stroke because they have nothing else.”

Politico first reported on Fetterman’s announcement in an interview earlier Wednesday.

Fetterman’s campaign last month had refused to take part in an early September debate against Oz, accusing the Republican’s campaign of mocking his status as a stroke survivor and acting in bad faith after it released a press release offering to “pay for any additional medical personnel he might must have on standby.”

Fetterman said in a press release on the time that he was “eager” to debate Oz, adding, “as I recuperate from this stroke and improve my auditory processing and speech, I look ahead to continuing to fulfill with the people of Pennsylvania.”

Fetterman said he “almost died” after suffering a stroke in May, just days before he won the Democratic nomination to compete for the Pennsylvania Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.

The important thing swing state’s Senate seat offers a serious pickup opportunity for each parties, as Democrats fight to carry their razor-thin Senate majority and Republicans push to wrest control of the chamber.

The stroke kept Fetterman off the campaign trail for 3 months. But polls of the race show he has held a lead over Oz, who has been bludgeoned with attacks characterizing him as an elitist with a stronger connection to Latest Jersey than Pennsylvania.

Fetterman last month held his first public rally for the reason that stroke and has conducted just 4 interviews with media organizations, including Politico.

The outlet reported that Fetterman “sometimes missed words while speaking” through the 17-minute videoconference, but “spoke at a standard pace” and discussed a variety of issues. “He didn’t request to see the questions beforehand,” Politico reported.

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