The editorial board of one of Pennsylvania’s largest newspapers this week slammed Democrat U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman’s attempts to get out of debating his opponent, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz, following his stroke earlier this year, saying that his excuses “won’t cut it” with voters.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Editorial Board attempted to provide balance to its op-ed by calling out Oz’s campaign over its professionalism in responding to Fetterman’s health issues.
Nevertheless, the editorial board conceded that “Mr. Oz has raised legitimate concerns” about Fetterman’s health, writing:
If Mr. Fetterman’s communication skills have not yet recovered sufficiently to effectively debate his opponent, many voters will have concerns about his ability to represent them effectively in Washington. While he has gamely undertaken more campaign events and media interviews in recent weeks, Mr. Fetterman still speaks haltingly and relies on closed captioning to fully understand his conversation partners.
The editorial board wrote that Fetterman’s campaign was too optimistic with its initial projections of how quickly Fetterman would recover and that even the most recent predictions of “several [more] months” to a “complete recovery” might also be too optimistic.
The editorial board concluded:
Mr. Oz is pressing the issue in an adolescent manner; nevertheless, a live debate is the best way to assure voters Mr. Fetterman is up to the job. The Republican’s antics have given Mr. Fetterman a plausible out: He won’t share the stage with someone who has behaved so shamefully. But that won’t cut it. Voters have a right to know whether their prospective senator can do the job — including handling the give-and-take of a vigorous debate.
The op-ed comes as a video clip emerged from Labor Day showing Fetterman struggling while speaking at a campaign event.
“Send me to Washington, D.C., to send–, so I can work with Senator Casey,” Fetterman said. “And I can champion the union way of life–, in Jersey, excuse me in D.C. Thank you. Thank you very much. And it’s an honor–, I live eight minutes away from here. And when I leave tonight, I got three miles away, Dr. Oz in his mansion in New Jersey, you’ve got a friend and you have an ally. Send me to Washington, D.C.”
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 7, 2022
A separate video clip from Labor Day showed Fetterman’s wife appearing to rush in to block her husband from having to answer a question from a political tracker on whether he will debate his opponent, Dr. Oz.
The clip, which was flagged by the National Republican Senate Committee’s (NRSC) Rapid Response account, showed a tracker asking Fetterman during a political march, “Hey John, are you going to debate Dr. Oz?”
As the tracker asks Fetterman the question, Fetterman’s wife, Gisele Barreto Fetterman, gets between the tracker and the husband and helps get her husband out of the situation.
Why is he so afraid to debate? pic.twitter.com/zUTKHYpNuY
— NRSC Rapid Response (@NRSC_Rapid) September 6, 2022