The first and only debate between Democrat John Fettman and Republican Mohamed Oz quickly turned into a series of personal and vitriolic attacks in what has become the highest stakes Senate race in the country.
Throughout the evening, Feltman’s speech was often paused and repeated, with the Democrat, who suffered a stroke in May, dropping his answer and occasionally losing his mind. Much of the attention going into the debate has centered on Feltman’s ongoing recovery and how his struggles with auditory processing and speech have affected a debate over the man who has made national claims about hosting a TV show.
But the debate also underscored the deep political divide between the candidates, with the two contending over energy policy, abortion and the economy.
Oz has apparently joined the debate, hoping to cast Feltman as someone too extreme to represent Pennsylvania, using the word “extreme” numerous times to describe several Democratic positions. And Feltman, in order to quickly dismiss many criticisms, used the term “Oz’s Law” to describe his opponent’s relationship to the truth.
Here are six takeaways from Tuesday night’s debate:
Feltman struggled to detail his stance on fracking, as he once said he never supported the industry and “never” will.
Ozzy was prepared for the issue, and when asked about it, he hit Feltman.
“He supports Biden’s desire to ban fracking on public lands, which are our lands, all our lands,” Oz said. “This is an extreme stance on energy. If we unleash our energy in Pennsylvania, it will help everyone.”
When Oz brought up Feltman’s comments about fracking, Feltman countered.
“I absolutely support fracking,” Feltman said. “I believe we need energetic independence, and I believe I’ve been on this path my entire career.”
He added, “I’ve always supported fracking and I’ve always believed that our energy independence is critical.”
But that’s not the case — Feltman has long opposed the practice of injecting water into shale formations to release previously economically inaccessible oil and gas deposits.
“I’m not supportive of fracking at all, I never have,” Feltman told the left-wing YouTube channel when he ran for lieutenant governor in 2018. “And I’ve signed a pledge to not use fossil fuels. I’ve never received a penny from any gas or oil company.”
Feltman seemed speechless when the host took note of the stance.
“I’m for fracking, but I’m not for, I’m not for, I’m for fracking, I’m for fracking,” Feltman said.
Oz declined for weeks to give a clear answer on how he would vote on the South Carolina senator’s bill. Lindsey Graham will ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
This debate is no exception.
“The federal government should not be involved in how states decide their abortion decisions,” Oz said when asked about abortion, before turning the question to Feltman and calling him “radical” and “extreme.”
But when asked directly how he would vote on the Graham bill, Oz declined to answer, claiming that he gave a bigger answer, saying he “wouldn’t support people who stop states from doing what they want to do” Federal Rules of Ability.”
Not having an answer gave Feltman a chance.
“I want to see the face of every woman in Pennsylvania,” Feltman said. “You know, if you believe that the choice of reproductive freedom belongs to Dr. Oz then you have a choice. But if you believe that the choice of abortion belongs to you and your doctor, that’s what I’m fighting for. Roe v. Wade To me yes, it should be the law.”
However, Feltman surpassed that position during the primaries.
When asked by CNN if he supported “any restrictions on abortion,” Feltman said he did not. He took a similar stance in the primary debate.
Oz again used the moment to call Feltman out, saying it was “important” that Feltman “at least admit” he took another stance on abortion.
But Democrats, including Feltman’s campaign, seized on Oz’s comments after the debate.
Oz said he believes the abortion debate should be left to “women, doctors, local political leaders,” a continuation of his argument that states, not the federal government, should decide the issue.
Top Democrats saw the comment as an opportunity to connect Oz with Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, a state senator who He has proposed a 2019 bill that would require doctors to determine whether a fetal heartbeat was present before an abortion and bar the surgery if it did. Detected.
Their argument: Oz thinks politicians like Mastriano — either as a state senator or possibly governor — should decide the issue.
Feltman’s campaign announced after the debate that it would invest in an ad that highlighted Oz’s comments.
The Feltman campaign went to great lengths to avoid debate — until criticism from the editorial board, the Oz campaign and others became too flimsy to continue resisting.
After watching the Harrisburg debate, although Feltman’s speech has shown considerable signs of improvement each week since his stroke in May, it remains an open question whether it was wise to bring him on stage with Oz . In many ways, it’s ugly.
Most, if not all, Democrats will almost certainly give him the benefit of the doubt, but whether voters will, is an open question.
Feltman struggled to prosecute the usual case against Oz and keep up with the hour-long debate. For his part, Oz rarely talks about his opponent’s recovery from a stroke in May. Of course, he didn’t have to.
Don’t worry if any Pennsylvania voters miss the debate.
There are sure to be new multi-million-dollar ads — reruns of many disturbing moments — from the top Republican super PAC that doubled in early Tuesday’s race.
Does the debate matter? In less than two weeks, Pennsylvania voters will help answer that question. But it’s sure to reverberate through the rest of the campaign.
At a time when politicians are wary of how to take on President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, that wariness was not on display Tuesday night.
Asked if he would support Trump in 2024, Oz, who won Trump’s support in the controversial Commonwealth Republican primary, said: “Whatever the GOP puts forward, I’ll support it. .”
“If Donald Trump decides to run for president, I’ll support him, but it’s bigger than one candidate,” Oz said.
For his part, Feltman isn’t running away from Biden, who made Pennsylvania — which he turned back to the Democratic Party in 2020 — one of the few states he visits multiple times during the 2022 midterms .
“If he did choose to run, I would absolutely support him, but at the end of the day, it’s just his choice,” Feltman said. “At the end of the day, I believe Joe Biden is a good family man and I believe he represents the union way of life.”
It was clear that Oz was more comfortable on the debate stage than Feltman — something Feltman’s aides anticipated and tried to emphasize ahead of time in a pre-debate memo, “Dr. for the past two decades.” , Oz has always been a professional TV personality.”
But the differences were evident from the start.
Feltman appeared nervous on stage, in stark contrast to Oz, who was at ease, smiling often and looking comfortable.
Fetterman tried to hit back at Oz’s near-constant barbs, sometimes interrupting when candidates answered – most notably during closing debates.
“You want to cut Social Security,” Feltman chimed in when Oz talked about meeting seniors who were worried about their Social Security checks.
Oz kept talking, and WPXI anchor Lisa Sylvester chimed in: “Mr. Feltman, it’s his turn to wrap up.”
Oz avoided attacking Feltman’s stroke recovery, a move at odds with his campaign, which has at times attacked the Democrat in a mocking tone. But Oz did point out that his opponent only agreed to take the stage to debate once.
“It was the only debate I could have you come and talk to me, and I had to get down on my knees to let you in,” Oz said.
Feltman again declined to give further medical information beyond two letters from his primary doctor. Recently, Feltman’s doctor wrote that the Democrat “has no work restrictions and can work full-time in public office.”
Feltman said he held off on whether his “real doctor” would release more medical information, a subtle dig at Oz, stressing that his appearances on stage and campaign activity were enough to prove he was fit for the job. Work.
“Transparency is all about showing. I’m here today to debate. I’m speaking in front of 3,000 people in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and it’s a huge crowd,” Feltman said. “You know, I believe if my doctor thinks I’m fit to serve, that’s what I think is fit.”
Under pressure from host WHTM abc27 news anchor Dennis Owens, Feltman responded: “My doctor thinks I’m fit to serve.”
This story has been updated with more debate.