Fetterman Finally Agrees to a Debate, But There's a Catch

AP Photo/Rebecca Droke

There’s some big news out of the Pennsylvania senate race: John Fetterman has finally agreed to a debate…But there’s a catch. Well, there are a series of catches, which we’ll get to momentarily.


For months, Republican Mehmet Oz has been his Democrat opponent to debate. Fetterman suffered a massive stroke in May that left him clearly unfit for office, something RedState has chronicled in the time since. For example, watch this video of his latest campaign event to get an idea of just how bad things are.

Given Fetterman’s condition, it’s no wonder he’s been making excuse after excuse to not debate. Somewhat surprising, though, he’s finally put a date on the calendar. The first debate will happen on October 25th. Yes, you read that right. The first debate is going to take place a mere two weeks before election day and a month after Pennsylvania starts early voting. How very convenient, right?

There’s more, though. Apparently, Fetterman asked for a series of accommodations for his condition and received them. One of those is two “practice sessions.”


This is nuts. You do not get practice sessions for debates at the debate venue. If Fetterman is too impaired to simply stand behind a podium and answer questions, he’s too impaired to be a US Senator. As Oz points out in his response, which is posted above, there is no closed captioning on the Senate floor. You either have the capacity to do the job or you don’t.

But here’s the other issue. Closed captioning and practice sessions, as ridiculous as they are for a senatorial debate, are not going to suddenly make Fetterman coherent. As that video I posted shows, this is a man who is getting worse, not better. If the bet is that he’ll be significantly more functioning in five weeks, that’s a bet I wouldn’t take. The man’s cognitive problems are obviously not short-term.

With that said, I suspect this is another head-fake by Fetterman. He’s now “agreed” to a debate that is insanely late in the cycle and that has a series of carveouts for him. But even then, I fully expect him to back out, citing that Oz made some attack that’s too mean or something. He’s already used that line once before to avoid debating, and you can bet he’ll do it again. Why? Because there’s just no way the guy in that video can stand on a stage for hours and answer questions. I don’t even think he could last ten minutes.


Oz says he’s going to keep pushing the issue, and he’s right to do so. Fetterman, if he wants to be in the Senate, needs to debate far sooner than October 25th. And if he can’t (and he can’t), then he needs to exit this race with some semblance of grace. He won’t, but he should.


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