Oz shines, Fetterman falters in Pennsylvania debate critical to determining control of U.S. Senate

Republicans, surging in the polls, stayed on offense in key debates from New York to Michigan as voters sour on Biden, inflation, crime and education.

Published: October 25, 2022 11:55pm

Updated: October 26, 2022 12:21am

The closely watched Pennsylvania Senate race received a jolt from its lone debate as Republican Mehmet Oz provided a smooth performance answering policy questions while Democrat John Fetterman showed clear lingering effects from the serious stroke he suffered earlier this year while fumbling his position about a key energy industry.

The debate Tuesday night in the capital city of Harrisburg was defined by two answers from the candidates: Oz on abortion and Fetterman on natural gas fracking.

Oz, a first-time candidate and former celebrity TV doctor endorsed by former President Donald Trump, wasted no time answering when pressed on whether he would support GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham’s legislation for a federal ban on abortion after 15 weeks.

“I don’t even need 30 seconds,” he replied. “I’ll give you a bigger answer: I am not going to support federal rules that block the ability of states to do what they wish to do. The abortion decision should be left up to states.”

Oz added: “I don’t want the federal government involved with that at all. I want women, doctors, local political leaders leading the democracy that’s always allowed our nation to thrive to put the best ideas forward so states can decide for themselves.”

Fetterman didn’t fare as well, acknowledging out of the gate he is still suffering lingering effects from the stroke earlier this year.  “I might miss some words during this debate, mush two words together. It knocked me down but I’m going to keep coming back up,” he said early on.

The 6-foot-8 tattoo-bearing politician also struggled to reconcile his past opposition to natural gas fracking that he now says he supports. “I do support fracking. And I don’t, I don’t. I support fracking, and I stand, and I do, support fracking,” he said in an answer typical of the lurching style that dominated his performance.

The Democrat nominee current lieutenant governor was also forced to distance himself from Joe Biden on the economy just hours after the announcement the president was going to stump in Pennsylvania for Fetterman.

"I just believe he needs to do more about supporting and fighting inflation and I do believe he can do more about that,” Fetterman said of the president. “But at the end of the day, I think Joe Biden is a good, good family man and I believe he stands for the union way of life."

Fetterman got low marks from the mainstream media. The Washington Post declared he “often stumbled over his words and struggled with the rapid-fire format of questions and answers.” An instant online poll by WPXI-TV found 82% of viewers believed Oz won the debate.

Oz’s performance punctuated a night of critical battleground state debates where surging Republicans stayed on offense just two weeks from Election Day as voters sour on the economy, crime, the border and far-left ideology seeping into local schools.

In New York, Rep. Lee Zeldin, the GOP gubernatorial nominee, blasted incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul for allowing crime to soar in the Empire State. “New York is in crisis,” Zeldin declared as Hochul countered with her support for abortion rights.

In Michigan, Republican gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon, rising quickly in the polls, accused Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of siding with teacher’s unions over parents in battles over pornographic books, pandemic policy and liberal ideology creeping into curriculum. "She is not going to stand with parents," Dixon predicted.

Whitmer got panned on social media after declaring her pandemic policies only kept students out of school for three months.

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