Fetterman-Oz face off in contentious debate

Matt Enright
York Dispatch
Democratic candidate Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Republican Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz  shake hands prior to the Nexstar Pennsylvania Senate at WHTM abc27 in Harrisburg, Pa., on Tuesday, October 25, 2022.

As they have in the campaign, Democratic nominee John Fetterman and Republican nominee Mehmet Oz sought to contrast their approaches in a Tuesday night debate.

Oz, while frequently attacking Fetterman and what he says is his opponent's far left extremism, also attempted to say he would reach across the aisle as senator.

"I'm a surgeon, I'm not a politician. We take big problems, we focus on them and we fix them and we do it by uniting, by coming together, not dividing," Oz said in his closing statement. "And by doing that, we can get ahead."

Fetterman said he would fight for every community in Pennsylvania.

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"My campaign is for fighting for everyone in Pennsylvania that got knocked down and get back up again," Fetterman said. "I'm also fighting for every forgotten community all across Pennsylvania that ever got knocked down."

Oz focused on the economy and trying to provide a contrast to Fetterman. Multiple times, he said Pennsylvania needed to "unleash" the state's natural gas resources, which would provide jobs and a boost to the economy.

Democratic Pennsylvania candidate Lt. Gov. John Fetterman participates in the Nexstar Pennsylvania Senate at WHTM abc27 in Harrisburg, Pa., on Tuesday, October 25, 2022.

"He raised taxes as mayor, he tried to raise taxes as lieutenant governor," Oz said of his opponent. "These are radical positions, they're extreme, they're out of touch with the values of Pennsylvanians."

Fetterman sought to attack Oz for his wealth as well as referring consistently to the "Oz rule": if he's on TV, he's lying.

Both candidates declined to provide specifics on certain topics.

When asked about the gun control bill passed in Congress earlier this year, Oz said there were parts that he liked but did not provide a specific answer on whether or not he would've voted to support the bill.

In response to a question on abortion, Oz said he would vote against a federal law governing abortions and that decisions on abortion should be between a doctor, patient and local political leaders. "There should not be involvement from the federal government in how states decide their abortion decisions."

Both candidates were asked about their changing positions on fracking.

In 2018, Fetterman said he would "never" support fracking. During the debate, he said multiple times that he had "always" supported fracking.

Oz, when asked about a 2014 column where he said there should not be fracking until the results of a study on its impact on health, said it is safe.

"It is a lifeline for this commonwealth," Oz said.

Republican Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz participates in the Nexstar Pennsylvania Senate at WHTM abc27 in Harrisburg, Pa., on Tuesday, October 25, 2022.

When asked about student loan forgiveness, Fetterman said he would support it. When then asked about what he would do to lower costs for those attending higher education, he declined to provide specifics.

Oz, when asked, said he would push universities to offer more electronic classes and attacked Fetterman's support of student loan forgiveness.

Fitness for office was a question directed to Fetterman, who would not commit to releasing detailed medical records following the stroke he suffered earlier this year.

The candidates did agree on a couple of topics. Both said they would not support expanding the Supreme Court, though Oz then attacked Fetterman for his support of ending the filibuster.

Foreign policy was another area where Oz iterated his support of increased natural gas production in Pennsylvania.

Fetterman, when asked about the country's biggest foreign policy concern, said it was China.

— This is a developing story. More to come.