Pennsylvania’s Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz has challenged Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, his Democratic opponent, to a debate in September, but Fetterman has said he needs more time to recover from the stroke he suffered in May and said any debate must be pushed to October.
Oz has said he will not agree to debate in mid-October unless Fetterman also agrees to debate in September. The Republican candidate wants to debate Fetterman before voters begin submitting early mail-in ballots.
“The first debate has to be in September so we can allow voters to know who their candidates are right now,” Oz told Axios. “Pick one of the debates in the next two, three weeks. So we can get this ball rolling.”
Oz’s comments came a day after Fetterman told Politico that he would agree to one debate with his GOP opponent and that he’s intended to debate him from the start. Fetterman is looking to have the debate “sometime in the middle to end of October.”
“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.
Fetterman suffered a stroke on May 13 a few hours before he was set to attend a campaign event at Millersville University in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He only returned to the campaign trail in mid-August.
In multiple interviews, the Democrat has mentioned that the stroke has affected his speaking and auditory processing, which could end up hurting his debate performance.
Fetterman’s campaign is considering using a closed caption monitor for the potential debate to ensure he doesn’t miss any words.
In his interview with Politico, Fetterman confirmed that some of his hearing has been affected from the stroke. However, the situation is getting better daily, he stated.
Questioning Fetterman’s Health
Oz has questioned his opponent’s decision to delay the debate.
“John Fetterman is either healthy and he’s dodging the debates because he does not want to answer for his radical left positions, or he’s too sick to participate in the debate,” Oz said at a recent press conference.
After returning to public life in August, Fetterman has only given a few speeches lasting about 10 minutes each as of Sept. 1. Many Republicans have raised concerns about Fetterman’s ability to serve in the Senate.