The Fetterman Campaign Gambled on Oz Debate…and Lost

News & Politics

The campaign for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania began as Democrat John Fetterman’s to lose. He was leading in the polls by double digits for a long time. Yet, in recent weeks, the polls tightened. Most recent polls are now within the margin of error.

Fetterman’s campaign long refused to debate Republican opponent Dr. Mehmet Oz but eventually agreed last month to appear in a single debate, which was held Tuesday night. Frankly, they had no choice.

Some Democrats in key races have outright refused to debate their Republican opponents, which has hurt their campaigns, but Fetterman’s campaign was in a unique spot because of his health. After Fetterman had been absent from the campaign trail for months, his refusal to debate was used effectively by Dr. Oz to point out he couldn’t serve as U.S. Senator. As a result, Fetterman needed an opportunity to prove to voters he could handle the job he was running for, and it had to be a debate.

Of course, participating in the debate would fully display Fetterman’s cognitive impairments. There was really no way for the Fetterman campaign to win in this situation, and I do not envy the position they were put in.

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It was a gamble. They chose to participate in the debate, and there’s no question that they lost.

They lost big time.

Related: PA Senate Debate an UTTER DISASTER for Fetterman

Fetterman had to prove to the voters of Pennsylvania that he was both physically and mentally capable of serving as U.S. Senator, and there isn’t a chance in heaven or hell he succeeded in doing that Tuesday night.

I’ve long doubted that Fetterman would ultimately participate in a debate. But I’m glad I was wrong because the voters of Pennsylvania deserved to see how Fetterman could handle it.

On top of his terrible performance, the candidate did himself no favors with his evasive response to a question about releasing his medical records.

“Last week, you released this note from your doctor saying you can work full duty in public office, but you have not released your detailed medical records surrounding your stroke,” one moderator said. “Mr. Fetterman, will you pledge tonight to release those records in the interest of transparency?”

“To be for transparency is about showing up. I’m here today to have a debate. I have, you know, spee- speeches in front of three thousand people in Montgomery County, all across Pennsylvania. Big, big crowds,” Fetterman responded.

“I believe if my doctor believes that I’m fit to serve, and, and that’s what I believe is appropriate. And now with two weeks before the election, you know, I have run a campaign and I’ve been very transparent about being very open about the fact we’re in use captioning,” he continued. “And I believe that again, my doctors, the real doctors that I believe in, they all believe that I’m ready to be served.”

Yes, that transcription is accurate. And the moderator didn’t accept Fetterman’s response as an acceptable answer.

“I didn’t hear you say you would release your full medical records. Why not?” the moderator asked. “You have 30 seconds.”

“Now, again, my doctor [unintelligble] believes that I’m fit to be serving and that’s what I believe is where I’m standing,” Fetterman claimed.

But Fetterman’s doctor’s note was anything but the epitome of transparency. As we’ve previously reported, the doctor, whom Fetterman wants us to trust, is a big-time Democrat donor who donated thousands of dollars to Democrats over the years and even to Fetterman’s campaign before he became his doctor. Yet, even without that knowledge, Fetterman’s response felt disingenuous.

Pennsylvania Democrats are now stuck with a candidate who makes Joe Biden sounds sharp and articulate, and there’s nothing they can do about it at this late date. Make no mistake about it — the same people out there defending Fetterman’s performance and saying he is capable of serving in the Senate will point to this debate as the death knell of his campaign, should he lose.

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