Citing continuing health issues from a debilitating stroke last May, Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) turned down a debate with Dr. Mehmet Oz (R) next week in the hotly contested U.S. Senate race in the Keystone State. In a statement issued Tuesday, Fetterman said he would not accept the invitation by TV station KDKA for the September 6 debate, saying, “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. They’ll always know where I stand.”
Fetterman suffered a stroke in May after ignoring his doctor’s advice to take medicines and make lifestyle changes to prevent a stroke after being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation five years ago.
Fetterman has made a handful of campaign appearances in the past few weeks and had difficulty speaking coherently at times.
CNN: “Fetterman was on message, but often halting in his speech and occasionally dropped words mid-sentence.” pic.twitter.com/gGfhFXE0jR
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) August 31, 2022
Fetterman debate statement:
New John Fetterman statement says he’s not participating in a debate the first week of September against Dr. Oz, and says he will continue to “recover from this stroke and improve my auditory processing and speech.” https://t.co/eGbZnkqp1f pic.twitter.com/BPrceSFkEh
— Alexi McCammond (@alexi) August 31, 2022
I’ve been traveling the commonwealth talking to voters about my vision and ideas for nearly a decade. I’m proud of my record as mayor and as Lieutenant Governor and I’m eager to put my record and my values up against Dr. Oz’s any day of the week.
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. They’ll always know where I stand.
Today’s statement from Dr. Oz’s team made it abundantly clear that they think it is funny to mock a stroke survivor. I chose not to participate in this farce. Any sense that these ‘challenges’ were done in good faith is damaged.
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.
Fetterman complained in his statement about Oz’ hard hitting statement issued earlier Tuesday offering generous concessions to Fetterman to participate in the debate:
The Doctor Oz campaign released the following list of concessions it is willing to make if John Fetterman will agree to debate in one week on KDKA-TV (a debate Oz agreed to without any pre-conditions):
Doctor Oz promises not to intentionally hurt John’s feelings at any point.
We will allow John to have all of his notes in front of him along with an earpiece so he can have the answers given to him by his staff, in real time.
At any point, John Fetterman can raise his hand and say “bathroom break!”
If the topic of his pardoned murderers comes up, we will allow extra time for him to explain that second-degree murder is “not as bad as” first-degree murder.
We will pay for any additional medical personnel he might need to have on standby.
“The first debate at KDKA is set for one week from today…but there’s been no response from lying liberal Fetterman,” said Brittany Yanick, Communications Director for Dr. Oz for Senate. “I mean, if I had to defend releasing convicted murderers and not paying my taxes 67 times, I’d be pretty worried too. I guess John Fetterman is afraid of debating Doctor Oz.”
Fetterman released a video Wednesday whining about Oz making his stroke an issue in the campaign, “I survived a stroke. Plenty of others have dealt with health challenges too. Can you imagine if you had a doctor who mocked you for it?”
I survived a stroke. Plenty of others have dealt with health challenges too.
Can you imagine if you had a doctor who mocked you for it? pic.twitter.com/T9bGRgtigH
— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) August 31, 2022
Fetterman is asking voters to elect him to the Senate when by his own doctor’s admission he doesn’t have the maturity and judgment to take care of his own health (via Newsweek):
Dr. Ramesh Chandra, “I first saw John in 2017. He was experiencing swelling in his feet and came to get it checked out. That is when I diagnosed him with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm, along with a decreased heart pump. I had prescribed medications along with improved diet and exercise and asked him to follow up again in the following months. Instead, I did not see him again until yesterday. John did not go to any doctor for 5 years and did not continue taking his medications.”
Oz is not letting up. On Wednesday the Oz campaign issued a ‘Top Ten list’ of reasons Fetterman won’t debate, among them: 1. Scared of Doctor Oz; 2. Campaign staff are worried Fetterman might talk about releasing convicted murderers from prison (again). 5. Might accidentally reveal a health condition that’s worse than previously disclosed! 10. Parents refused to pay for the gas to drive to debate.
Oz noted that Fetterman has also rejected another debate, this one sponsored by WFMZ-TV and the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce that was set for September 9.
The two most recent polls show the race has narrowed in recent weeks with Fetterman’s double digit lead in down to just four or five points as Oz has surged from the 30s to the mid 40s. Susquehanna: Fetterman 49, Oz 44; Emerson: Fetterman 48, Oz 44.