Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman on Wednesday vowed to debate Republican nominee Mehmet Oz as Oz ramped up his criticism of Fetterman for not having already committed to a debate between the two.
“We’re absolutely going to debate Dr. Oz, and that was really always our intent to do that,” Fetterman said in an interview “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.”
“We’re absolutely going to debate Dr. Oz, and that was really always our intent to do that,” Fetterman said in a statement, echoing his comments in an interview with Politico.
“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 did not say which debate he intended to participate in, but said it would take place on a “major television station” in Pennsylvania “sometime in the middle to end of October.”
He noted that there was “literally zero precedent” for a debate to be held in September, adding “that was never going to happen.”
“But let’s be clear this has never really been about debates for Dr. Oz. This whole thing has been about Dr. Oz and his team mocking me for having a stroke because they’ve got nothing else,” he added.
Oz’s campaign, which has pushed Fetterman to commit to a debate, poked fun at Fetterman’s announcement, dubbing it a “secret debate.” Fetterman is recovering from a stroke he suffered in May that has left with lingering auditory issues.
“BIG NEWS! John Fetterman has agreed to debate at a SECRET DEBATE. We don’t know WHERE. We don’t know WHEN. We don’t know HOW. It’s a big SECRET!” Oz campaign spokesperson Brittany Yanick said in a statement.
“John Fetterman’s campaign is embarrassing themselves. Let’s be clear – Dr. Oz’s campaign won’t agree to a SECRET debate. It has to be a REAL one with REAL journalists asking REAL questions. Sorry John – imaginary debates don’t count!” she added.
Oz has been trailing Fetterman in recent polling in the Pennsylvania Senate race for Sen. Pat Toomey’s (R-Pa.) seat. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report recently shifted their rating of the race from “toss up” to “lean Democrat.”
Former President Trump visited the state last weekend to boost to several of his endorsees, including Oz, making his second appearance in Pennsylvania this year so far. In a further effort to boost Oz, a pro-Oz group launched an ad this week hitting Fetterman over a 2013 incident in which Fetterman pulled a gun on a Black man whom he suspected of committing a wrongdoing.
Updated: 6:45 p.m.