The Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, John Fetterman, has agreed to a debate with Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz on October 25, far after voting in the Keystone State has started.
According to an announcement from the Fetterman campaign, Nexstar will sponsor the debate in Harrisburg. Fetterman, who had a stroke in May and has had difficulty in public since resuming his campaign in August, avoided debates before announcing to Politico last week that he will take part in one. He only said it will be “sometime in the middle to end of October,” with no other details. The beginning of mail-in voting is September 19, according to Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen, who cited the Philadelphia Citizen.
“We always stated that we would hold a debate, and John reaffirmed this last week in no uncertain terms.” Rebecca Katz, a senior adviser to Fetterman’s campaign, said on Wednesday, “Enough diversion, let’s speak about the issues.”
The Fetterman campaign requested closed captioning throughout the debate – for the panelists and for Doctor Oz, according to the Oz campaign’s own release, which was issued shortly after the decision. The Fetterman campaign also requested two practice sessions to become comfortable with the closed captioning technology. Three demands came from Oz’s staff in response to these requests for accommodations.
First, the campaign requested that the moderator inform the audience that Fetterman will be using the closed captioning system to clarify any pauses in his responses to questions. Second, the campaign demands that “practice session questions have nothing in common with any of those posed at the debate.”
“While preparing using the closed caption system is entirely acceptable, practicing Fetterman’s responses beforehand with the moderators is prohibited,” according to Oz’s campaign. “Specifics of how this will be implemented are currently being worked out.”
Finally, the campaign asks a 90-minute debate rather than a 60-minute one in order to compensate for any potential lost TV time because Fetterman’s comments will be delayed.
Days after the Washington Post editorial board demanded that he provide his health records and claimed that the campaign “squandered credibility” because of its lack of openness on Fetterman’s hospitalization in May, Fetterman announced his intention to debate. Additionally, it required him to participate in multiple debates, one of which had to occur before the voting begins.