Pennsylvania Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman has committed to a televised debate with his Republican challenger, Dr. Mehmet Oz, next month.
The debate will be hosted by Nexstar Television in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and is scheduled to take place Oct. 25, two weeks before election day Nov. 8. The debate will be broadcast throughout Pennsylvania and featured live on local network affiliates that cover all of the state's 67 counties.
"We said from the start that we’d do a debate, which John reiterated very clearly again last week. Enough distractions, it’s time to talk about the issues," Rebecca Katz, senior adviser to the Fetterman campaign, said in a statement. "While John will be debating Dr. Oz next month, Oz doesn’t have to wait that long to be honest with Pennsylvania voters about where he really stands on abortion. It’s a simple question, doctor: Would you vote for the Republicans’ national abortion ban, or would you vote against it?"
Last week, Fetterman agreed to debate Oz, but did not make it clear which debate he would engage in.
In response to the Fetterman campaign's agreement to the debate next month, the Oz campaign requested three accommodations due to the Fetterman campaign's alleged request to use closed captioning during the debate.
The Oz campaign said in a press release that it would accept the debate invitation if three things were found to be "acceptable" to Fetterman's campaign:
1. That at the top of the debate - a moderator explain to the audience that Fetterman is using a closed captioning system during the debate, to explain any delay between him being asked a question and responding.
2. That the questions asked by any Nexstar employee during the "practice" sessions for Fetterman bear zero resemblance to the actual questions asked during the debate. We are totally fine with Fetterman practicing with the closed caption system, but not with Fetterman practicing his answers ahead of time in conjunction with the moderators. The details of how this would be enforced is still being worked out.
3. That the debate be extended from 60 to 90 minutes - because John will be on a delay, we believe that it would be unfair to viewers interested in the candidates' positions to waste airtime while closed captioners type questions and answers.
"Doctor Oz has accepted seven different debates throughout September and October. Today, after being hit with massive criticism from state and national editorials and commentators for ducking, John Fetterman finally agreed to one debate...that was originally scheduled for October 5th," Casey Contres, the campaign manager for Doctor Oz for Senate, said in a statement. "It’s a debate that Fetterman insisted be delayed until only two weeks remain in the campaign, to keep voters in the dark as long as possible. And it’s a debate in which Fetterman insisted on accommodations for his health condition, accommodations that are not permitted on the U.S. Senate floor."
Contres added that Oz "looks forward to being in Harrisburg on October 25th to share his vision for a better Pennsylvania and America, and he is ready expose Fetterman’s record as the most radical far-left senate candidate in America."
Fetterman had previously declined to take part in a debate during the first week of September, which the Oz campaign said was proof he was either not healthy enough to debate, or afraid to defend his policies. The Oz team said Fetterman's refusal to debate was "insulting" Pennsylvania voters' intelligence.
Oz took aim at Fetterman over his refusal to debate during a recent interview with Fox News Digital, saying that he is either scared to present his views to voters, or is unable to debate because of poor health following his May stroke.
"John Fetterman has been ducking, dodging these debates, which is insulting to the voters of Pennsylvania," Oz told Fox News Digital. "And he has to own the reasons for his desire to avoid a debate with me. Either he's healthy, which he says he is, and doesn't want to answer for his radical positions in past statements, or he's lying about his health.
"Either way, the voters of Pennsylvania deserve an answer, and I think they deserve that answer pretty quickly, since the absentee ballots will be mailed out in the next two to three weeks," Oz added.
In February, Fetterman said in a tweet that debates were "an important part" of the Democratic primary for Senate.
"Debates are an important part of this primary," Fetterman wrote in a February tweet, prior to the Democratic primary election for the Senate seat. "We believe voters deserve no fewer than three network televised debates - including all candidates who make the ballot - before major media markets across PA."
Fox News' Thomas Phippen contributed to this report.