Mehmet Oz and his rival Fetterman in the USA shared their trump card in the live broadcast.
Pennsylvania Senate candidates John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz squared off Tuesday night in their race’s first and only debate, a bruising encounter shaped in part by the Democrat’s lingering communication difficulties following a stroke.
The event came exactly two weeks before an election in the pivotal contest, which could determine the partisan tilt of the U.S. Senate.
Though Fetterman held a sizable polling lead over his GOP rival through the summer, Oz has been whittling away at this advantage as Election Day approaches, and recent surveys have suggested the candidates are now neck-and-neck.
The hour-long debate, which took place in Harrisburg, covered topics including crime, the economy and abortion and gave voters the opportunity to evaluate Fetterman’s recovery from the life-threatening stroke he suffered earlier this year.
Recap:John Fetterman, Mehmet Oz spar in Pennsylvania US Senate debate on abortion, crime, fracking
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Oz has been pressing for more debates — a setting in which even Fetterman’s team acknowledges the Republican, a former TV talk show host, has an inherent advantage. Fetterman only agreed to the Tuesday night event, which was broadcast across the state and streamed on about a dozen websites.
Fetterman acknowledged his stroke was the “elephant in the room”
In a memo sent to reporters Monday, Fetterman’s campaign advisers admitted “this isn’t John’s format,” all the more because the candidate in May experienced a stroke that has affected his communication.
The Democrat’s lingering auditory processing issues mean he sometimes misses a word as it’s spoken to him or stumbles as he’s talking, but his campaign has released a physician’s letter stating the candidate is not showing signs of cognitive impairment and is ready for public office.
During the debate, Fetterman used closed captioning so he could read questions back before responding, technology he’s also employed in media interviews conducted since his medical emergency.
John Fetterman stroke recovery: New medical report says U.S. Senatorial candidate has ‘no work restrictions’
Fetterman remarked at the debate’s outset that his stroke was an “elephant in the room” and said he would likely miss words or “mush two words together” during the event. In the ensuing hour, his verbal stumbles ranged from being noticeable in some answers to obscuring his meaning in others.