John Fetterman and Dr. Oz Debate Plans Remain Up in the Air amid Stroke Recovery

Earlier this week, Fetterman said he would not participate in a Sept. 6 debate with Oz, adding: "They think it is funny to mock a stroke survivor"

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Dr. Mehmet Oz
John Fetterman, Mehmet Oz. Photo: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Bonnie Biess/Getty

Plans for Pennsylvania Senate candidates John Fetterman and Dr. Mehmet Oz to face off in a debate remain up in the air as Fetterman continues to recover from a stroke, with the Democrat's campaign telling The Washington Post it is "working to figure out what a fair debate would look like with the lingering impacts of the auditory processing in mind."

"To be absolutely clear, the occasional issues he is having with auditory processing have no bearing on his ability to do the job as senator," Fetterman campaign strategist Rebecca Katz told the Post. "John is healthy and fully capable of showing up and doing the work."

Lt. Gov. Fetterman, 53, suffered a stroke days before Pennsylvania's Democratic primary in May and underwent a procedure to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator. His doctor later revealed he has atrial fibrillation, which caused the stroke, and cardiomyopathy, which is why he got the implant.

Earlier this month, Fetterman returned to the campaign trail and told supporters he was "grateful" and "feeling great, better than I have in years" in an emotional speech.

The stroke has factored in to the campaign in other ways, after Fetterman had a bit of fun with a viral video of Oz's peculiar shopping trip for crudités at a so-called "Wegner's" supermarket.

A campaign official for the celebrity doctor, who is running as a Republican, hit back at his Democratic rival by mocking Fetterman's recent stroke.

"If John Fetterman had ever eaten a vegetable in his life, then maybe he wouldn't have had a major stroke and wouldn't be in the position of having to lie about it constantly," Rachel Tripp, Oz's senior communications adviser, told Insider in an interview.

Fetterman responded to the Oz campaign's swipe at his stroke in a post on Twitter, writing: "I had a stroke. I survived it. I'm truly so grateful to still be here today. I know politics can be nasty, but even then, I could *never* imagine ridiculing someone for their health challenges."

The back-and-forth has continued this week, with the Oz campaign saying in a seemingly sarcastic statement released Tuesday that it would "pay for any additional medical personnel he might need to have on standby" if Fetterman would agree to a Sept. 6 debate.

After that announcement, Fetterman said he would not participate in the debate with Oz, adding: "They think it is funny to mock a stroke survivor."

"My recovery may be a joke to Dr. Oz and his team, but it's real for me," Fetterman said in the statement, per MarketWatch.

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The tenor of the Pennsylvania Senate campaign has been one of near-constant mocking and memes, with Fetterman relentlessly calling out Oz out for being an out-of-touch transplant from New Jersey. Oz, meanwhile, argues that Fetterman is a "lying liberal" who is afraid to debate the television personality/cardiothoracic surgeon.

Fetterman is currently in the lead against Oz (who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump), according to a recent poll.

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