Sep 8, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Oz calls for September debate, criticizing Fetterman's offer

Mehmet Oz
Photo: Hannah Beier/Bloomberg via Getty Images

SPRINGFIELD, Pa. — Mehmet Oz, the Republican nominee for Pennsylvania Senate, continued to press the issue of debates against his opponent John Fetterman, one day after the Democrat said he'd agree to participate in a single October debate.

Driving the news: "The first debate has to be in September so we can allow voters to know who their candidates are right now," Oz told Axios. "Pick one of the debates in the next two, three weeks. So we can get this ball rolling." Oz said he wouldn't accept a mid-October debate until Fetterman agrees to one sooner.

  • Oz said he wants Fetterman to debate before early voting is well underway. Absentee and mail-in ballots are available in Pennsylvania beginning on Sept. 19.
  • Fetterman, who is still recovering from a stroke, told Politico this week that he's committed to participating in one debate "in the middle to end of October." He said his campaign is still working on accommodations for his lingering "auditory processing" problems.

What they're saying: Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who appeared with Oz at the suburban Philadelphia town hall, connected Fetterman's recovery from a stroke to President Biden's mental acuity.

  • "First of all, we wish him well. That's the biggest thing, A stroke is no small thing and we know there's lasting effects from it," Haley told Axios. "And we've been down this road with Biden. We go through this every day. When we see him look at a teleprompter and how much he struggles."
  • Oz added: "This is not about health. This is about honesty. You're either healthy, which [Fetterman] says he is pretty much, or you're not debating because you don't want to face the rigors of being pushed on your radical positions. Or you're lying about being healthy."

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify that Oz will not guarantee he will agree to debate in October. He did not reject the offer outright.

Go deeper