““Why don’t you pretend that you you live in Vermont instead of Pennsylvania and run against Bernie Sanders, because all you can do is talk about Bernie Sanders?””
— Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman to his Republican opponent, Mehmet Oz
John Fetterman, the Democratic Senate nominee in Pennsylvania, hit back on Tuesday at Republican Mehmet Oz’s efforts to tie him to progressive Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during the race’s first and only debate.
Fetterman’s quip came after the pair discussed the issue of health care, with celebrity Dr. Oz accusing the state’s lieutenant governor of embracing a “dangerous” approach.
“He believes we should socialize medicine,” Oz said of Fetterman. “He embraced this with Bernie Sanders, who he endorsed. The two candidates call themselves the two most progressive people in America. When you have socialized medicine, that is, you shut down the ability of people to get access to health care, doctors stop practicing, there are no medications available, the lines get wrong. It’s a disaster and it puts people at risk.”
While Fetterman did endorse Sanders during his 2016 presidential bid, he denied on Thursday that he ever supported socialized health care.
“It’s the Oz rule. He’s on TV and he’s lying,” Fetterman replied. “I never supported any of that thing. You know, he keeps talking about Bernie Sanders. You know, three years. Three years ago, he was on his show, and he hugged him and he said, ‘I love this guy.’” (You can watch Oz’s 2019 interview with Sanders here).
Fetterman then added: “You know what? Why don’t you pretend that you you live in Vermont instead of Pennsylvania and run against Bernie Sanders because all you can do is talk about Bernie Sanders,” a not-so-subtle reference to Oz’s home in New Jersey.
“My truth is, is that health care is a basic fundamental right and I believe in expanding that and I believe about supporting fighting for health care, the kind of health care that saved my life,” added Fetterman, who suffered a stroke in May.
During the debate, Fetterman used closed captioning due to lingering auditory processing issues from the stroke. Oz’s campaign has continued to highlight Fetterman’s health as an issue, and polling in Pennsylvania shows an increasingly tight race. An average of polling conducted so far in October shows Fetterman with a 1.3-point lead, well within the polls’ margins of error.
Oz interjected that what Fetterman said was “dishonest” and began to say that he “explictly supported” socialized medicine before getting cut off by the debate moderators due to time constraints.
The Republican celebrity doctor has previously likened Fetterman to Sanders, tweeting in July that the Democratic lieutenant governor would “befriend Bernie Sanders in the Senate” and would “follow Bernie’s lead and be his sidekick.”
On his campaign website, Fetterman says he would support “any legislation that gets us closer to the goal of universal health-care coverage.”
“In the richest nation on earth, I believe we have a moral duty to guarantee quality health-care coverage for every American, and end the disgusting practice of corporations profiting from people’s health and well-being,” his website reads.