Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democrat, addressed thousands of people Sunday at a Planned Parenthood abortion rights rally outside Philadelphia but has yet to schedule a debate against GOP challenger Dr. Mehmet Oz in the U.S. Senate race there.
''Thanks to the 3,000-plus of you for showing up on a rainy Sunday afternoon in [Montgomery County],'' Fetterman posted on Twitter following the Sunday rally sponsored by Planned Parenthood. ''I'd 'proudly' be that 51st vote to codify Roe [v. Wade].''
Fetterman, who suffered a stroke in May, days before the state's primary elections, agreed Sept. 7 to have one October debate with Oz, Politico reported.
''We're absolutely going to debate Dr. Oz, and that was really always our intent to do that,'' Fetterman told Politico in an exclusive interview. ''It was just simply only ever been about addressing some of the lingering issues of the stroke, the auditory processing, and we're going to be able to work that out.''
Fetterman told Politico that the debate would take place ''in the middle to end of October,'' and that he is considering using a closed caption system so that he does not miss any words due to his stroke recovery.
''We're just exploring that,'' he told the news outlet. ''I have every ability to talk about all of these issues and have a full debate. And that's really just the one lingering issue of the stroke — that some of my hearing was damaged a little bit, but it's continuing to get better and better and better every day.''
Oz told Fox News on Friday that Fetterman was ''dodging'' the debate issue.
"He doesn't have the interest of voters at hand,'' Oz said Friday. ''He's dodging, because he doesn't want to debate me."
Current GOP Sen. Pat Toomey, who is retiring from the Senate and opening the seat for this election, appeared with Oz at a campaign event and questioned Fetterman's ability to serve under the circumstances.
''I've worked with senators in both parties, sadly, who have seriously diminished intellectual or communication capabilities, and I can tell you, that's a very different thing,'' Politico reported Toomey saying. ''It's really hard to be an effective voice for your constituents if you cannot engage in that way.''
Just last week, the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote that it had ''serious concerns'' about Fetterman's ability to hold the seat while recovering from the stroke.
''If Mr. Fetterman is not well enough to debate his opponent, that raises serious concerns about his ability to serve as a United States Senator,'' the editorial said.
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