John Fetterman and Dr Oz go head-to-head

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John Fetterman and Dr. Oz go head-to-head: Democratic Senate hopeful says to expect ‘awkward pauses’ and errors as he recovers from stroke – and blasts his Republican opponent’s attacks as ‘mean’

  • Pennsylvania Senate hopefuls, Democrat John Fetterman and Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz face off in their one and only debate Tuesday night in Harrisburg
  • In the run-up to the debate Tuesday, Fetterman’s campaign tempered expectations in a memo due to his use of closed captioning 
  • Fetterman is using the technology due to his auditory processing issue, a leftover effect from the stroke he suffered in May

Pennsylvania Senate hopefuls John Fetterman, the state’s Democratic lieutenant governor, and Republican, TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, kicked off their one and only debate Tuesday night in Harrisburg. 

Right out of the gate, the candidates went after each other – with Fetterman’s delivery often halting and choppy. 

Fetterman labeled Oz a ‘liar’ everytime he appears on television, while Oz hammered Fetterman for having ‘extreme’ positions. 

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In the run-up to the debate Tuesday, Fetterman’s campaign tempered expectations in a memo, pointing out that there may be ‘delays and errors’ and ‘awkward pauses’ due to the Democrat using closed captioning. 

Fetterman is using the technology, with the questions being transcribed by hand by debate staff, due to his auditory processing issue, a leftover effect from the stroke he suffered in May.

John Fetterman and Dr Oz go head-to-head

Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (left) debated Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz (right) Tuesday night in Harrisburg 

The memo also called out the Oz campaign for attacks on Fetterman’s health, which have mostly been made via the Republican’s campaign staff. 

‘Oz will try to play the nice doctor on Tuesday night, but his campaign’s attacks on John’s health have consistently been mean-spirited and cruel,’ the memo said. ‘We won’t forget this is the same “doctor” whose campaign has mocked John’s use of closed-captioning technology, about him needing bathroom breaks and medical staff nearby, and he wouldn’t have had a stroke if he ate vegetables.’ 

Oz’s staff made the comments as a September debate was being negotiated, but never happened, as Fetterman pulled out, saying the Republican’s team was mocking a stroke victim. 

The Harrisburg stage will be the only time the two candidates meet – as mail-in ballots have already been sent out to Pennsylvania voters. 

Fetterman has consistently had a small edge in polls, which continues, though several recent surveys show it’s close. 

On Tuesday, a CBS News survey put the distance between the two candidates at two points.  

According to the survey, 51 percent of likely Keystone State voters back Fetterman, compared to 49 percent who back Oz.

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The Democratic populist’s lead falls well within the 4.4-percent margin of error.     

Pennsylvania voters are eager to see how the match-up will play out, CBS News’ poll suggests. 

More than 60 percent of respondents said they were at least ‘somewhat’ like to tune in. 

The poll was taken October 21 to 24, right up until the night before the debate.

In addition to his auditory processing disorder, the stroke also has left Fetterman occasionally stumbling over his words and taking more pauses while speaking. 

A new poll taken up until the day before John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz's first and only debate shows the Democrat's lead over his Trump-backed rival sitting at only 2 percent

A new poll taken up until the day before John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz’s first and only debate shows the Democrat’s lead over his Trump-backed rival sitting at only 2 percent 

But according to the poll, voters are not interested in hearing about it tonight.

Nor are they interested in more attacks on Oz’s residency in Pennsylvania versus his family home in New Jersey, which have been a cornerstone of Fetterman’s campaign. 

Fifty-four percent of registered voters told CBS they aren’t looking for discussions about Fetterman’s health. 

Likewise, 57 percent said they don’t need to hear more about where Oz lives.

But more than nine out of every 10 Pennsylvanians polled said they want the candidates to talk about the economy, as well as their views on crime and policing.

That could be an edge for Oz tonight – Americans’ concerns about the economy and soaring inflation have been a big campaign issue for Republicans across the country, as mounting public opinion polls show voters trust Republicans slightly more than Democrats both on the economy and crime.

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