When Fetterman refused to argue, Dr. Oz brought up the matter

It begins with an argument about grossness. It has escalated, with a Senate hoping to openly mock the health of others after a stroke.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Republican nominee for the Senate nomination in Pennsylvania, who had mocked his Democratic opponent, Lieutenant Colonel John Fetterman, about his stroke recovery, suddenly brought up an issue. on which both candidates tiptoed on a central topic of one of the most watched race of the year.

Mr Fetterman said on Tuesday that he would not participate in a debate in early September, implying that his recovery from a stroke in May was not enough for him to function at his peak. my ability. His decision came after a day of running the Oz campaign.

“As I recover from this stroke and improve my hearing and voice processing, I look forward to continuing to meet the people of Pennsylvania,” said Fetterman, who returned to campaigning this month. this, said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, the Oz campaign offered a bogus list of “concessions” if Mr. Fetterman agreed to take part in a September 6 debate hosted by Pittsburgh’s KDKA-TV, which included “We will pay for any additional paramedics he may need on standby “and” At any point, John Fetterman could raise his hand and say, “Bathroom off!”

The bad turn in the race, the outcome of which could help determine which party controls the Senate after the fall election, has ushered in Dr. Oz, who has since left his career as a cardiac surgeon and who famous on television to run for office, alleging using leverage. While there is a long tradition in American politics of candidates questioning the health and fitness of their opponents for office, Dr. Oz captured the issue when he was revitalizing the candidate. candidate is in trouble.

The attacks have opened up an issue that the Fetterman campaign has sought to control – Mr. Fetterman’s health – by avoiding free questions from the media or voters since the candidate returned. re-election campaign this month.

After stroke A few days before the primary surgery, Mr. Fetterman had a pacemaker and defibrillator implanted. Initially, his campaign gave little information. In the end, it was revealed that he had been diagnosed with a heart condition, cardiomyopathyThis makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood to the body. In a statement at the time, Mr Fetterman’s doctor said he would be able to campaign and serve in the Senate without issue if he recovered “very seriously”.

During an August 23 appearance in Pittsburgh, his speech was halted and he sometimes searched for the right words with ease. Conservative news outlets and commentators have been collecting clips since appearing to portray Mr Fetterman as inappropriate.

For months during his convalescence, Fetterman’s campaign consisted mainly of insulting Dr. Oz on social media, including calling him a carpet salesman from New Jersey. That effort has paid off with millions of online interactions and countless donations.

Later, when Mr. Fetterman mocked Dr. Oz for a video that showed Dr. Oz shopping for what he called “junk food” in the vegetable aisle, to demonstrate the effects of inflation, Oz’s campaign countered in a different way.

“If John Fetterman had ever eaten a certain vegetable in his life, he probably wouldn’t have had a major stroke and wouldn’t have to lie about it constantly,” Rachel Tripp, a spokeswoman for Oz, said in a statement. statement.

The Oz campaign went on to take issue of Mr. Fetterman’s health to attack him for not committing to a series of five debates. Dr. Oz hinted that his opponent was avoiding a confrontation.

Asked in a radio interview on Tuesday whether his campaign had gone too far in attacking Mr Fetterman for causing his stroke by giving up vegetables, Dr Oz insisted. what seems like a fake offer: “John Fetterman should be allowed to make a full recovery, and I will support him. ability as a person is going through a tough time getting ready. Later in the day, the Oz campaign adopted a tone of public sarcasm when it published its list of “concessions”.

Mr. Fetterman reacted strongly. “Today statement from Dr. Oz’s team made it clear that they thought it was funny to mock a stroke survivor,” Mr Fetterman said in a statement. statement. “I have chosen not to participate in this farce.”

“My recovery may have been a joke to Dr. Oz and his team, but it is the truth for me,” he added.

Mr. Fetterman declined to comment for this article. Operation Oz did not respond to a request to speak to him.

Democratic strategists in Pennsylvania not affiliated with the Fetterman campaign say questions about his health or appearance in debates are unlikely to sway his support. recently poll have an advantage over the opponent by four or five percentage points.

“As a Democrat, I’d rather Oz talk about debates – an issue that few voters care about – rather than talk about inflation,” said JJ Balaban, a Democratic strategist. “And Fetterman’s stroke was widely reported, so voters’ concerns may have been baked in the cake.”

Butler County Democratic Party chairwoman Catherine Lalonde, who witnessed Mr. Fetterman speak over the weekend at the “Demstock” festival in northwestern Pennsylvania, said he sometimes struggles to come up with some words, “but his ability to think and reason seemed better than ever. “

She said Democrats wouldn’t care if no debate was held. “They thought Oz would use them because he knew that with John Fetterman having a bit of aphasia, then Oz would look better, who was quick because he’s been selling stuff on TV for years.”

A Republican senator, David G. Argall, said the issues of missed debates and Mr. Fetterman’s health have yet to reach the average voter. “The closer it gets to Election Day, the more people pay attention to issues like this,” he said.

Mr. Argall, Chairman of the Senate State Government Committee, is trying to get Mr. Fetterman to testify that his illness has affected his job as lieutenant-colonel governor, but is not getting it. reply. “Just crickets,” he said.

Many Republican grassroots voters were slow to align with Dr Oz on suspicion that he was neither a true conservative nor a member of the Make America Great Again movement. Witnessing influential conservatives concerned about Mr. Fetterman’s health – including Fox News host Laura Ingraham and commentator Ben Shapiro – can help secure the support of those in need. Republican for Dr. Oz.

However, there is also the potential for a backlash against Dr. Oz. On Wednesday, Mr. Fetterman released a video in which he asked numerous voters, “How many of you have had a major health challenge in your life?”

“Can you even imagine that if you had a doctor mocking your illness or mocking it?” he added. “Well, here we are.”

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