In an effort to assist John Fetterman catch up to the Democratic front-runner and subtly draw attention to his health as he recovers from a stroke, Mehmet Oz on Friday officially challenged him to five Pennsylvania Senate debates.
The famous TV doctor, Oz, took sure to time his demand for a debate to fall on May 15, two days before the state’s primary, when Fetterman had his first rally after being disabled by a stroke. The state’s lieutenant governor, Fetterman, spent days in the hospital and briefly lost his ability to speak clearly.
Since then, Fetterman has maintained a lead in the polls. He has also spent more money on television than Oz has, and his campaign has cleverly utilized social media, at one time using “Jersey Shore” reality TV star Snooki to make fun of Oz’s background outside of the state. Republicans claimed that the campaign of Fetterman purposely concealed the speech issues that the candidate has confessed he suffered as a result of the stroke by presenting highly edited footage with several cuts.
The Fetterman campaign refused to specify how many debates he will participate in and criticized Oz’s strategy as an indication of desperation.
Although that is a normal answer for the front-runner, Christopher Borick, a pollster and political science professor at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, predicted that Fetterman’s ability to dismiss Oz’s challenge will be hampered for several debates.
There is some pressure on Fetterman to show that he is prepared to go. He is not required to concur with anything. But in fall, he’ll have to face up against Oz,” Borick remarked. Although I don’t believe it’s very important to this campaign, Fetterman needs to demonstrate his suitability for the position given his current state of health.
The first open-press public gathering when voters and journalists will have the chance to evaluate his rehabilitation will take place on Friday.
Oz, a heart surgeon, has taken care to avoid directly criticizing or evaluating Fetterman’s health. Instead, his team started a Fetterman Basement Tracker on social media to highlight Fetterman’s absence from the campaign trail while he was recovering. That point was reiterated by Oz’s campaign in a statement advocating for more debates.
According to Brittany Yanick, Oz’s spokeswoman, “John Fetterman has been hiding from reporters and the public for the last few months because he doesn’t want to discuss his radical policy positions, which include wanting to spend trillions more than Biden and releasing one-third of Pennsylvania’s convicted criminals onto our streets.
“Pennsylvanians deserve to know if Fetterman will participate in meaningful discussions or retreat to his basement now that he has returned to the campaign trail after a 90-day hiatus, “Added she.
Rebecca Katz, a campaign consultant for the Fetterman campaign, called the Oz campaign’s desire for a debate “an obvious and sad attempt to divert the subject following yet another horrible week.”
“John is willing to debate Oz, but we won’t do it on his terms. Katz stated in an email that Dr. Oz, a billionaire celebrity, “is undoubtedly used to bullying people and getting his own way, but he’s not going to be able to intimidate John Fetterman.
In Katz’s words, “our eyes are wide open regarding whose strengths this plays to” because the Democratic lieutenant governor “had a stroke three months ago, while the other is a professional television personality.” She claimed that considering his 20-year career of “lying to people on television,” it comes as no surprise that he wants to engage in as many arguments as possible.
According to Fetterman’s campaign, he recently had three private fundraisers, one each in Philadelphia on July 21, Camp Hill on August 9, and Philadelphia on August 9.
Before having a stroke, Fetterman’s appearance during his Democratic primary debates suggested that he was uneasy. This was noted by Pennsylvania pollster Borick.
Four of the five debates Oz seeks would require the candidates to stand for an hour, which would put additional pressure on Fetterman while he recovers. Five debates is unusual for Pennsylvania senate elections. There were two debates for the general election senate candidates in 2018 and two in 2016.
Republicans have been more irate with Fetterman as a result of their growing concern over the state of Oz’s campaign. In one of the Democrat’s Twitter videos criticizing Oz’s residency, former Rep. Ryan Costello, R-Pa., made fun of Fetterman’s remarks in order to capture that sense of exasperation.
Fetterman’s video was described as “embarrassing” by another conservative account, which Costello linked to in his post. “He can hardly articulate, & has barely left his house for 2 months,” Costello said.
Oz has agreed to participate in the following five debates: • KDKA Pittsburgh (September 6)
• Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce and WFMZ (September 9)
The Nexstar (October 5)
• FOX 29 Philadelphia, together with Spotlight Pennsylvania
• NBC Harrisburg (WGAL)
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