Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman said Tuesday he won’t participate in a debate against his Republican opponent Mehmet Oz during the first week of September, citing his ongoing recovery from a recent stroke.
Fetterman in his announcement also called out Oz’s campaign over a mocking statement it released earlier that day in which it listed several “concessions” it would make if the Democrat agreed to a debate. Among them was payment for “additional medical personnel [Fetterman] might need to have on standby.”
The Democrat blasted Oz and his campaign over the statement, accusing them of making it “abundantly clear that they think it is funny to mock a stroke survivor.” Fetterman said he “chose not to participate in this farce.”
“I will not be participating in a debate the first week of September, but look forward to having a productive discussion about how we can move forward and have a real conversation on this once Dr. Oz and his team are ready to take this seriously,” he added.
An Oz aide mocked Fetterman’s stroke in a statement to Insider last week after Fetterman raised money off of a video of Oz shopping at a grocery store and complaining about the price of crudité.
Fetterman had been waylaid following a stroke he suffered in May. He has since returned to the campaign trail, recently holding events in multiple rural counties.
The Fetterman-Oz showdown is one of the most closely watched Senate races ahead of November’s midterm elections as one of the races that could determine the control of the Senate chamber.
“As I recover from this stroke and improve my auditory processing and speech, I look forward to continuing to meet with the people of Pennsylvania,” Fetterman said. “They’ll always know where I stand.”
“We heard John Fetterman won’t debate Oz in the ‘first week of September’. Ok, so when will he debate? He won’t ever say – not even in his latest whiny statement. John Fetterman’s campaign is insulting the intelligence of Pennsylvania voters,” said Brittany Yanick, communications director for Oz, in a statement Tuesday night.