Less than a week ahead of his only scheduled debate with John Fetterman, Mehmet Oz is under fire for his comments that suggest Fetterman’s wife, Gisele Baretto Fetterman, would serve as senator if her husband is elected.
“This is not about me or him. It’s about the voters,” Oz said in an interview on the Hugh Hewitt Show. “They have a right to know what’s going on in his body so they can tell if his wife is right or not. Is he going to be the senator or is she going to be the senator?
“And these are topics that he has continually ducked,” Oz continued. “The NBC interview he did last week was awkward for a lot of folks who had not really seen what it is like for him to recover, or what his current condition was cause he’s hidden it.”
Oz’s comments represent his continued questions about Fetterman’s ability to serve as a senator if he is elected.
Fetterman suffered a severe stroke in May, days before the primary. He cast his vote from a hospital bed and has made limited public appearances during his recovery.
Oz, his campaign, the GOP, and multiple media outlets have criticized Fetterman for not releasing his medical records.
On Oct. 19, Fetterman released an updated medical report that said he "is recovering well from his stroke and his health has continued to improve.”
The report was produced by Dr. Clifford Chen from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC).
Fetterman’s physical exam was normal and his blood pressure, heart rate, and pulse oximetry readings are within normal range, according to the report.
Chen also said that the Pennsylvania lieutenant governor’s lung exam was clear and his strength and coordination were normal.
“I have spoken with his neurologist and cardiologist, and he will follow up with them routinely,” Chen wrote. “The lieutenant governor takes appropriate medications to optimize his heart condition and prevent future strokes.”
Fetterman is exercising and can walk four to five miles regularly without difficulty, Chen noted.
Regarding Fetterman’s cognitive abilities, Chen explained that he “spoke intelligently without cognitive deficits” and added that his speech was normal but he demonstrates auditory processing issues that can appear like he is having difficulty with hearing.
“Overall, Lt. Gov. Fetterman is well and shows strong commitment to maintaining good fitness and health practices,” Chen said in the report. “He has no work restrictions and can work full duty in public office.”
Fetterman served as mayor of Braddock, a small borough southeast of Pittsburgh where he still lives. In September, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial board called on both candidates to release their medical records. Oz obliged, and the results indicated he is in “excellent health,” according to his doctor.
Fetterman had repeatedly refused to reveal medical information until the report from Chen.
On Oct. 18, a group of Pennsylvania physicians released a statement requesting Fetterman to unveil his medical records “and provide Pennsylvanians with the transparency they are owed.”
In a statement, Fetterman’s campaign said that Chen’s report is “crushing news for Oz, who has been rooting against John's recovery and staked his entire campaign on it."
Oz's campaign responded with a statement that shifted attention to specific issues.
“That’s good news that John Fetterman’s doctor gave him a clean bill of health. The bad news is that John Fetterman still supports releasing convicted murderers out on the streets and has zero explanation for why he didn’t pay his taxes 67 times,” Rachel Tripp, a senior adviser for the Oz campaign, told The Epoch Times in an email.
“And now that he apparently is healthy, he can debate for 90 minutes, start taking live questions from voters and reporters, and do a second debate now too.”
On Oct. 7, Fetterman granted NBC News’ Dasha Burns his first sit-down interview since the May stroke.
In the interview, which aired on Oct. 11, Fetterman required a monitor with closed captioning to understand Burns’ questions and had trouble speaking clearly.
Fetterman made his first public appearance since his stroke on Aug. 12. Oz immediately challenged him to appear on the debate stage. Oz asked for five debates from Sept. 6 to Oct. 5. Fetterman eventually agreed to one debate—on Oct. 25, two weeks before election day. Early voting started in Pennsylvania on Sept. 19.
During the Oct. 25 debate in Harrisburg, Fetterman is expected to use closed captioning, which he has relied on in interviews and public appearances as he continued to recover.
“Occasional words he will 'miss' which seems like he doesn't hear the word but it is actually not processed properly,” Chen said. "His hearing of sound such as music is not affected. His communication is significantly improved compared to his first visit assisted by speech therapy which he has attended on a regular basis since the stroke.”
Fetterman once led Oz in the polls by double digits, but that advantage has gradually declined in recent months.
A new AARP Pennsylvania poll conducted by Fabrizio Ward and Impact Research among 1,377 likely Pennsylvania voters between Oct. 4 and Oct. 12 shows Fetterman with a 48 percent to 46 percent lead.