Democratic Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s Senate campaign attempted to temper expectations one day before the stroke survivor’s debate with Republican opponent Dr. Mehmet Oz — issuing a memo to reporters claiming the celebrity heart surgeon has “a huge built-in advantage.”

The candidates will take the stage on Tuesday in Harrisburg for their first and only debate before the Nov. 8 election. Fetterman will use a closed captioning system onstage to read questions from the moderators as he continues to suffer from “auditory processing challenges” as a result of his May stroke.

“Let’s be clear about this match-up: Dr. Oz has been a professional TV personality for the last two decades,” the Fetterman campaign wrote in the memo, which was shared on Twitter by POLITICO reporter Holly Otterbein.

“We’ll admit — this isn’t John’s format,” the memo continues. “Look no further than the debates from the primary earlier this year.”

Fetterman’s camp also pointed out that Oz has had a lot of practice in front of the camera, having filmed over 2,000 episodes of “The Dr. Oz Show” since 2009.

“If we’re all being honest, Oz clearly comes into Tuesday night with a huge built-in advantage,” the memo continued.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman will use a closed captioning system onstage to read questions from the moderators.
AP/Patrick Semansky

The lieutenant governor’s team also warned the media to be prepared for “awkward pauses,” and Fetterman “missing some words, and mushing other words together.”

They also noted that a human will be typing out the moderator’s questions and exchanges between the candidates, so there may be “temporary miscommunications” and other delays.

The Fetterman campaign claimed that Tuesday night’s spectacle is “unprecedented,” as there has never been a closed captioned political debate in such a high-profile race before.

Dr. Oz
Dr. Oz has “a huge built-in advantage” for the debate due to his experience as a television personality, according to Fetterman’s campaign.
AP/Gene J. Puskar

Fetterman used a closed captioning system earlier this month in a sit-down interview with NBC News, which led to controversy after reporter Dasha Burns noted that Fetterman seemed to have “a hard time understanding our conversation” without the subtitles in place.

Gisele Fetterman, the Democratic Senate candidate’s wife, accused Burns of being “ableist” and demanded an apology from the network.

According to a Real Clear Politics average of polls, Fetterman leads Oz by 2.2 percentage points in the race.





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