Pennsylvania Senate: Fetterman has pledged to debate Oz two weeks before Election Day

Even after Fetterman said he intended to discuss Oz, questions lingered about when he might deliver on that promise. Fetterman’s speech remains slurred after a stroke he said nearly killed him, but he and his campaign insist his “auditory processing” problems are part of the recovery process and will improve over time.

Oz Fetterman has made use of his previous refusal to offer whether and when he would be willing to go one-on-one with the Republican nominee. Last week, retired GOP Sen. Pat Toomey joined Oz in a press conference that escalated the attacks, accusing Fetterman of exaggerating his health problems to avoid debate-stage cross-examination or being physically unfit to serve.

“This isn’t health, this is honesty,” Oz said. “Either John Fetterman is physically able to debate and he’s not debating because he doesn’t want to own up to the statements he’s made, the radical leftist statements he’s made on so many issues, or he’s lying about his health.”

Fetterman’s commitment to a single debate date is unlikely to satisfy the Oz campaign, which has said that with mail-in ballots coming soon, many voters will make up their minds without seeing the pair together.

CNN has reached out to the Oz campaign for an answer.

Pennsylvania’s Senate seat is a top choice for Democrats who are defending a slim majority in the chamber this fall. It is one of five states that flipped from former President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.
Fetterman’s announcement that his participation in the debate has become a point of contention among some national campaigners. In Georgia, Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger, Herschel Walker, have agreed to at least one debate after weeks of sparring between campaigns over televised debates.
In North Carolina’s open Senate race, the campaigns of Democrat Cheri Beasley and Republican Ted Budd continue to debate when to hold a televised debate. And in Ohio, home to another open Senate seat contest, tense negotiations between the campaigns of Democrat Tim Ryan and Republican JD Vance remain unresolved. There are similar deadlocks in statewide Senate and gubernatorial races.

In his announcement Wednesday, Fetterman expanded on the Oct. 25 debate, which will be hosted by Nexstar and aired on numerous affiliates across the state, and noted that Oz had previously committed to participating.

“We said from the beginning that we would have a debate, and John made it very clear again last week. Enough of the distractions, it’s time to talk about the issues,” Fetterman campaign senior adviser Rebecca Katz said in a statement.

CNN’s Michael Warren contributed to this report.