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John Fetterman Reportedly Agrees to Debate Dr. Oz, With Demands, Just 2 Weeks Before the Election

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

On Wednesday, Democrat John Fetterman finally indicated that he is willing to debate Dr. Mehmet Oz, his Republican opponent in the race to see who will replace outgoing Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA). The debate won't be until over a month from now, on October 25, just two weeks before the election.  

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Fetterman had previously refused certain debates due to the terms, though as Marc Levy reported for the Associated Press on Wednesday, there still appears to be disagreements over the terms.

From his report:

Fetterman’s campaign has said Oz was operating in bad faith by insisting on so many debates and said Oz’s motivation is to mock Fetterman for having a stroke. Fetterman still speaks haltingly and struggles to quickly respond to words he hears. 

To accommodate that, Fetterman asked the station for closed-captioning during the debate and two practice sessions in the studio ahead of time. 

In response, Oz’s campaign issued three requests. 

It wants a moderator to tell the audience that Fetterman is using closed captioning to explain delays in his responses; practice sessions to not use actual debate questions; and the debate to be 90 minutes, instead of 60, because of closed-captioning delays.

Fetterman’s campaign said it had no problem with telling the audience about the closed captioning and said the practice sessions are simply walkthroughs that are routine before any debate. But Fetterman’s campaign insisted that the debate be 60 minutes and said Oz’s campaign had already agreed.

The report also included a statement from the Fetterman campaign, acting as if Dr. Oz had been the difficult candidate, even when he has been making petulant demands that suggest perhaps he's not ready to debate after all. The rare public appearances and campaign events there have been show that Fetterman still is likely experiencing health issues after suffering a stroke in May, shortly before winning the primary. 

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"For weeks Oz and his team have wet the bed about debates," the campaign said. "Enough already, we are debating on the 25th, either show up or don’t, but now let’s get back to talking about the issues that matter, like how Oz would vote on the Senate abortion ban."

As the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) pointed out, Dr. Oz on the other hand has accepted seven debates. 

A press release from the Oz campaign included a statement from Casey Contres, Oz's campaign manager. "Doctor Oz has accepted seven different debates throughout September and October. Today, after being hit with massive criticism from state and national editorials and commentators for ducking, John Fetterman finally agreed to one debate...that was originally scheduled for October 5th. It’s a debate that Fetterman insisted be delayed until only two weeks remain in the campaign, to keep voters in the dark as long as possible. And it’s a debate in which Fetterman insisted on accommodations for his health condition, accommodations that are not permitted on the U.S. Senate floor," Contres said.

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The statement continued by highlighting Fetterman's record. "Doctor Oz looks forward to being in Harrisburg on October 25th to share his vision for a better Pennsylvania and America, and he is ready expose Fetterman’s record as the most radical far-left senate candidate in America. Doctor Oz will continue to push for more and sooner debates.  Pennsylvania voters should not have to wait until October 25th to hear from their candidates. And while John Fetterman continues to mostly campaign from his basement, Doctor Oz will continue to rigorously campaign in every corner of the Commonwealth. Voters need to hear about John Fetterman's radical record of supporting parole for violent murderers and not paying his taxes 67 times," Cotntres added. 

Fetterman doesn't appear to be fooling too many on his debate-dodging tactics. As Spencer highlighted earlier in the week, even The Washington Post has called him out. 

Speaking of abortion, Fetterman held a rally on the 21st anniversary of September 11 to promote his pro-abortion positions, where he also introduced himself as "Fetterwoman."

As RealClearPolitics' Tom Bevan pointed out over Twitter, though, a Monmouth University poll released on Wednesday, far more voters care about economic issues than abortion. That being said, Fetterman does have an edge on the economy.

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Fetterman is not the only Democrat who has refused to or been slow to debate his Republican opponent. As Larry highlighted in his column from Tuesday, before the October 25 debate was announced, there's a "Democrat Strategy: Vote Now, Debate Later." Democrats refuse to debate their opponents in the Arizona gubernatorial race, Washington senatorial race, and Michigan gubernatorial race. 

While Fetterman may have a lead over Dr. Oz, it is a narrow one. RealClearPolitics has Fetterman at +6.2. The race is also considered only "Lean Democratic," or "Toss-Up."

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