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Fetterman agrees to debate Oz in Pennsylvania Senate race, but details are to be determined

<i>Justin Merriman/Bloomberg/Getty Images</i><br/>John Fetterman
Bloomberg via Getty Images
Justin Merriman/Bloomberg/Getty Images
John Fetterman

By Gregory Krieg, CNN

A day after Pennsylvania GOP Senate nominee Mehmet Oz again attacked John Fetterman over his refusal to debate, the Democratic lieutenant governor, who is recovering from a stroke suffered in May, has committed to meeting his opponent.

Fetterman said in a statement Wednesday that he always intended to debate Oz and that the hold-up has “only ever been about addressing some of the lingering issues of my stroke, the auditory processing, and we’re going to be able to work that out.”

Though he declined to provide specifics over where and when he planned to debate Oz, Fetterman said he was eyeing sometime “in the middle to end of October,” adding, “We are still finalizing the details.”

He first made similar comments in an interview with Politico published Wednesday.

Minutes after the interview was published, the Oz campaign put out a statement mocking the announcement, deriding it as a “secret debate.”

“Let’s be clear – Dr. Oz’s campaign won’t agree to a SECRET debate. It has to be a REAL one with REAL journalists asking REAL questions. Sorry John – imaginary debates don’t count!” Oz communications director Brittany Yanick said.

The Pennsylvania Senate seat is a top pick up opportunity for Democrats, who are defending their slim majority in the chamber this fall. The state narrowly voted for Joe Biden in 2020, four years after voters there narrowly backed Donald Trump.

On Tuesday, Oz and retiring GOP Sen. Pat Toomey held a joint news conference to accuse Fetterman of either lying about his health or trying to dodge debate questions.

“He’s either not as well as he claims to be, or he’s afraid to be called out for the radical policies he supports,” Toomey said. “It’s one or the other.”

Fetterman’s campaign has insisted that he is fully recovering but hamstrung in part by what they’ve described as “auditory processing” issues, which can complicate his ability to hear and speak. The issue, Fetterman and his aides say, will resolve with time.

Rebecca Katz, a senior adviser to Fetterman, has accused the Oz campaign of “deliberately conflating two separate things — John’s health and this last lingering effect of the stroke.”

“John Fetterman is healthy,” she said. “He is sharp. He is funny. He is on it.”

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