Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman of Pennsylvania said Tuesday he won’t debate Republican rival Mehmet Oz next week, objecting to what he called the Oz campaign’s mocking his recovery from a stroke.
“I will not be participating in a debate the first week of September, but look forward to having a productive discussion about how we can move forward and have a real conversation on this once Dr. Oz and his team are ready to take this seriously,” he added.
An Oz campaign aide said last week that Mr. Fetterman wouldn’t have had a stroke if he “had ever eaten a vegetable in his life.” In a radio interview on Tuesday, Mr. Oz, a celebrity surgeon and former TV personality, didn’t disavow his aide’s remark.
“I can only speak to what I’m saying ― is that John Fetterman should be allowed to recover fully, and I will support his ability, as someone who’s gone through a difficult time, to get ready,” Mr. Oz said on KDKA.
Later Tuesday, the Oz campaign said it had been notified that Mr. Fetterman would not take part in next week’s planned debate on live TV.
“John Fetterman is a liar, a liberal, and a coward,” said Britney Yanick, communications director for the Oz campaign.
“I chose not to participate in this farce,” he said of the canceled debate. “Any sense that these ‘challenges’ were done in good faith is damaged.”
“I look forward to continuing to meet with the people of Pennsylvania. They’ll always know where I stand,” he said.