Pennsylvania GOP Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz called out Democrat opponent John Fetterman's absence from the campaign trail Friday and challenged him to five moderated debates.
According to the Washington Examiner, Oz has been a frequent critic of his rival's absence from the race, despite the fact that Fetterman suffered a stroke in May, and has questioned whether the Democrat is physically able to serve a full term in the Senate.
The celebrity cardiothoracic surgeon's debate request came the same day that Fetterman was scheduled to host his first public event since the episode in Erie, Pennsylvania.
"I've officially committed to 5 moderated debates across Pennsylvania," Oz tweeted on Friday. "Fetterman has agreed to 0. It's time for Fetterman to show up. Pennsylvanians deserve to hear from their candidates."
According to NBC News, Fetterman's campaign said he would be willing to debate Oz, but did not confirm the terms.
"John is up for debating Oz — but we're not going to do this on Oz's terms," Fetterman campaign strategist Rebecca Katz told NBC. "A millionaire celebrity like Dr. Oz is probably used to pushing people around and getting his own way, but he's not going to be able to bully John Fetterman."
The event on Friday will be the first time Fetterman's supporters will be able to evaluate his recovery after Republicans have spent weeks casting doubt on whether he is physically fit for office due to his health concerns.
Pennsylvania's lieutenant governor was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy just over two months ago, after the Democrat suffered a stroke in mid-May, according to the Examiner.
The condition causes the heart muscle to weaken and become enlarged.
Fetterman was hospitalized days before winning the Pennsylvania Democratic nomination for Senate. Though he would later say he "almost died," he has insisted that the medical event would not prevent him from fulfilling his Senate obligations.
The Examiner reports that the Democrat Senate hopeful was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation — an irregular heart rhythm — in 2017 after noticing swelling in his feet and was told to return for a follow-up in the next few months. Fetterman did not return for five years after his initial diagnosis, the outlet reports, raising questions about whether he is healthy enough to run in one of the most hotly contested senatorial races in the country.
In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette late last month, Fetterman said he doesn't have any "physical limits" and has "nothing to hide" regarding his health.
The 52-year-old also said he walks four to five miles every day, can understand words in conversations accurately and has experienced no memory loss.
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