The Washington Post Editorial Board came out swinging against U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman (D) in a new op-ed published on Monday, saying that his hesitancy to debate his Republican opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz, was unacceptable and that he needs to release his medical records following his stroke.
Fetterman claimed in an interview last week that he would debate “sometime in the middle to end of October,” which is weeks after voters can start casting mail-in ballots, and he refused to give any specific details other than he would potentially debate one time.
“Since returning to the campaign trail, Mr. Fetterman has been halting in his performances,” the Editorial Board wrote. “He stammers, appears confused and keeps his remarks short. He’s held no news conferences. Mr. Fetterman acknowledges his difficulties with auditory processing, which make it hard for him to respond quickly to what he’s hearing. He receives speech therapy — and we wish him a speedy, full recovery — but the lingering, unanswered questions about his health, underscored by his hesitation to debate, are unsettling.”
“The Fetterman campaign squandered credibility by concealing from the public for two days after his stroke that he had been hospitalized,” they op-ed continued. “It waited weeks longer to reveal a more complete picture of his medical history, including that he had been diagnosed in 2017 with cardiomyopathy. Mr. Fetterman had a pacemaker with a defibrillator implanted after the stroke. The campaign’s response to questions about Mr. Fetterman’s health is to point to a doctor’s note, released more than 14 weeks ago, which said ‘he should be able to campaign and serve in the U.S. Senate without a problem’ if he takes his medications and exercises.”
The Editorial Board said that Fetterman pointing to a 4-month-old doctor’s note was “not good enough” and that he “should release his medical records for independent review.”
Oz responded to Fetterman’s ambiguous remarks about debating one-time in late October by calling out his lack of specificity.
“We keep hearing that the Fetterman campaign is in debate talks with networks,” Oz tweeted. “What networks? He won’t say. What terms? He won’t say. John Fetterman sure has a lot of people speaking for him, but does very little speaking himself.”
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Editorial Board also demanded that Fetterman debate Oz, writing that Oz “has raised legitimate concerns” about Fetterman’s health.
“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,” the local paper wrote. “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.”