Democrats are waving off concerns about Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman’s health after his recent stroke.
The Democratic nominee has shunned the press and avoided lengthy speeches since returning to the campaign trail. When speaking, Fetterman has shown difficulty articulating his thoughts or maintaining long sentences.
Fetterman now says he will debate Republican candidate Mehmet Oz, though no final details have been agreed upon.
“Listen, Fetterman doesn’t need to debate him right now,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen told told Politico on Thursday. “Because he’s ahead. It’s still early. I think, ultimately, he will [debate].”
She added, “And why should he help Oz’s campaign? Why does he need to do it now?”
Fetterman, currently lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, suffered a stroke in mid-May, and his campaign announced he had gone into surgery on May 17 — the day voters selected him as the Democratic nominee for Senate in Pennsylvania. His camp maintains that he is perfectly capable of continuing the campaign.
Oz says Fetterman is either scared to present his views to voters, or is unable to debate because of poor health following his stroke.
“John Fetterman has been ducking, dodging these debates, which is insulting to the voters of Pennsylvania,” Oz told Fox News Digital. “And he has to own the reasons for his desire to avoid a debate with me. Either he’s healthy, which he says he is, and doesn’t want to answer for his radical positions in past statements, or he’s lying about his health.
“Either way, the voters of Pennsylvania deserve an answer, and I think they deserve that answer pretty quickly, since the absentee ballots will be mailed out in the next two to three weeks,” Oz added.
“He just has to keep doing what he’s doing,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair Gary Peters told Politico.
Peters went on to claim Republicans’ scrutiny of Fetterman’s health “shows desperation, they know they’re in trouble, big trouble. I’m confident we’re going to win in Pennsylvania.”
Fetterman announced his intention to push back against the accusations during a separate interview with Politico on Thursday, saying he is “absolutely going to debate Dr. Oz.”
“We’re absolutely going to debate Dr. Oz, and that was really always our intent to do that,” Fetterman said. “It was just simply only ever been about addressing some of the lingering issues of the stroke, the auditory processing, and we’re going to be able to work that out.”
Fox News’ Kyle Morris and Thomas Phippen contributed to this report.