In Oz-Fetterman Debate, Candidates Clash on Abortion But Agree on Fracking

The candidates for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania met Tuesday for his or her first and solely debate in a race being carefully watched throughout the nation as a potential bellwether for the midterm elections. Trump-backed Republican nominee and TV persona Mehmet Oz, higher referred to as Dr. Oz, sparred with Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman about crime, inflation, abortion and extra. The night time was a serious take a look at for Fetterman, who used a closed captioning gadget as he recovers from a serious stroke that has resulted in auditory processing difficulties. “Irrespective of the place you come down politically, it was a really exhausting night time for John Fetterman when it comes to the place he was at together with his stroke restoration and attempting to cope with a format like this,” says journalist Will Bunch, who referred to as the talk “one of the vital make-or-break nights I’ve seen in my lifetime of protecting politics.”


It is a rush transcript. Copy might not be in its last kind.

AMY GOODMAN: That is Democracy Now!,, the Struggle and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. In Pennsylvania, Senate candidates Democrat John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Ouncesfaced off Tuesday night time of their first and solely debate forward of the November eighth election to fill the seat held by Republican Senator Pat Toomey who’s retiring on the finish of the time period. The Pennsylvania race will possible assist resolve which occasion controls the Senate. Fetterman is the lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania who’s operating as a progressive populist. Ouncesis a well known tv physician who’s price at the least $76 million. He has been endorsed by Donald Trump. A lot of the race has been targeted on Fetterman’s well being. Simply days earlier than the Democratic major in Might, Fetterman suffered a stroke, forcing him to cancel public appearances for months. He nonetheless suffers from auditory processing points. On Tuesday night time, a closed captioning system was arrange so Fetterman might learn the questions and his opponent’s responses. Throughout his opening assertion, Fetterman mentioned his stroke.

JOHN FETTERMAN: Let’s additionally discuss concerning the elephant within the room. I had a stroke. He has by no means let me overlook that. I’d miss some phrases throughout this debate, mush two phrases collectively. But it surely knocked me down however I’m going to maintain coming again up. And this marketing campaign to me is all about preventing for everybody in Pennsylvania that ever bought knocked down that should get again up and preventing for all forgotten communities all throughout Pennsylvania.

AMY GOODMAN: One of the heated parts of the talk between John Fetterman and Mehmet Ouncescentered on the problem of reproductive rights. That is Dr. Ouncestalking about his help for the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

DR. MEHMET OZ: There shouldn’t be involvement from the federal authorities in how states resolve their abortion choices. As a doctor, I’ve been within the room when there are some troublesome conversations occurring. I don’t need the federal authorities concerned with that in any respect. I need girls, medical doctors, native political leaders letting the democracy that has at all times allowed our nation to thrive to place the most effective concepts ahead so states can resolve for themselves.

AMY GOODMAN: In the meantime, John Fetterman reiterated his help for reproductive rights.

JOHN FETTERMAN: What I help? I help on Roe v. Wade. That was the regulation of the land for 50 years. He celebrated when it fell down. And I might struggle to reestablish on Roe v. Wade. That’s what I run on. That’s what I consider. And I’ve at all times believed that the selection [inaudible] girls and their medical doctors. And he believes that the selection must be with him or Republican legislatures all throughout this nation.

AMY GOODMAN: For extra, we’re joined in Philadelphia by Will Bunch, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and nationwide columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Welcome again to Democracy Now!
Let’s begin off, the importance of this race. It is without doubt one of the most watched races within the nation proper now, might decide the stability of the U.S. Senate. After which discuss this debate final night time.

WILL BUNCH: Sure, it completely might. When you take a look at the polls proper now, if all of the races went the best way the polls are predicting, we might be at or shut to a different 50/50 Senate. So one race might actually resolve whether or not it’s 50/50 or 51/49 both method. It might resolve who the following Senate majority chief goes to be, whether or not it will be Mitch McConnell or Chuck Schumer. So this race is totally vital. The polls have proven that it has been tightening. Fetterman has led in many of the polls, however Ounceshas polled to inside a digital tie at this level. So final night time was really, when it comes to Senate races, and I’ve been protecting politics for 40 years, simply one of the vital make-or-break nights I’ve seen in my lifetime of protecting politics.

AMY GOODMAN: Discuss what occurred final night time. At first when John Fetterman addressed the problem of his stroke, very uncommon, as he learn closed captioning so he might course of the questions and Mehmet Ouncess responses.

WILL BUNCH: Sure. What Fetterman and his staff did was they tried to arrange the viewers for the truth that he was going to battle verbally on among the solutions. They ready going into it. I feel you performed his clip at first the place he stated he would possibly mush phrases collectively, he would possibly battle with among the solutions. That having stated, I feel irrespective of the place you come down politically, it was a really exhausting night time for John Fetterman when it comes to the place he was at together with his stroke restoration and attempting to cope with a format like this. Lots of people identified, the format of the talk final night time which was actually constructed round very brief solutions and meant to have type of a speedy hearth give-and-take was in all probability the worst potential format for him. He struggled with it. He clearly struggled with a few of his solutions.

Once more, it actually type of falls on the citizens to some level of how do you view that. Most medical doctors say Fetterman has proven that he’s recovering from this stroke. He’s at a stage of his restoration the place he’s not 100% recovered however it’s primarily auditory processing points. And the query is whether or not, so far as that a part of it’s involved, whether or not voters are going to have a look at his coronary heart drawback or what’s in Fetterman’s coronary heart, what his positions are on the problems and what he would do as a senator when it comes to how he’d vote on issues like reproductive rights or the minimal wage.

AMY GOODMAN: Reproductive rights is a extremely attention-grabbing problem. We simply performed these clips. However for Dr. Mehmet Ouncesto say he doesn’t need the Feds concerned with this choice as if he was saying it must be a girl’s private choice; he did say it must be a choice between a girl, her physician and native political leaders.

WILL BUNCH: Yeah. I imply, what was fascinating was, for all of the give attention to Fetterman’s efficiency, completely the worst gaff of the night time was from Mehmet Oz, the truth that —that line the place he stated an abortion is a choice between a girl, her physician and native elected officers. Pennsylvanians are going to see that second on a loop nonstop between now and November eighth as a result of that’s simply going to be a extremely unpopular place. The overwhelming majority of voters in Pennsylvania, as in the remainder of the nation, don’t want anybody else concerned in that very non-public choice about reproductive rights. In order that was a horrible second for him.

AMY GOODMAN: Physician’s places of work are going to should get greater to be able to match the physician, the one who is pregnant and the native elected officers all into that little workplace, as they’re making their choice.

WILL BUNCH: Oh my gosh, yeah. The response — my Twitter feed was flooded with tweets from native elected officers saying, “Look, I’m the final particular person you wish to hear from on this, and also you positively don’t want me concerned.”

AMY GOODMAN: Will, what about fracking? Mehmet Ouncessays that John Fetterman has switched his place on fracking. Was once in opposition to it and now he says he’s for it.

WILL BUNCH: To me, to be trustworthy, the entire fracking factor was essentially the most disappointing a part of the talk, as a result of I feel it’s a crucial problem. Mainly, each candidates when it comes to what they stated final night time, gave a full-on endorsement of fracking. There was mainly no point out of local weather change in any respect within the debate from both the moderators, which was dangerous, or from both candidate. I assumed the second worst second of the talk apart from Ouncess abortion gaff, was a solution he gave on the minimal wage, the place he mainly stated he would do nothing legislatively to lift the minimal wage. It is a big problem in Pennsylvania, as a result of the state minimal wage right here is just $7.25, similar to the nationwide. So we actually rely on Washington to bail us out on that. He stated he wouldn’t do something, however he additionally stated the remedy is simply extra fracking which is able to create these magical high-paying jobs, which hasn’t been the case because the 2000s. And there was no point out of local weather change all through the talk.

To me, I feel essentially the most disappointing second on substance for Fetterman was the truth that he didn’t give a extra nuanced reply on fracking, that he had an opportunity to handle local weather change and at the least say that he helps extra environmental regulation on fracking, which he does. The reality is, the vast majority of Pennsylvanians oppose fracking, which is I feel is poorly understood by most political consultants. In order that was a little bit of a disappointment, that second.

AMY GOODMAN: I wish to go to the a part of the talk final night time in Pennsylvania the place John Fetterman and Mehmet Ouncessparred over President Biden’s plan to supply scholar debt reduction to hundreds of thousands of debtors. That is Dr. Oz.

DR. MEHMET OZ: John Fetterman’s strategy, nonetheless, is to not cope with the unnecessarily excessive value, however simply to pay it. So if you wish to pay college students who didn’t pay their loans again, mainly what John Fetterman and Joe Biden are arguing for is for plumbers who didn’t go to varsity and couldn’t for a bunch of causes afford it, to pay the payments of legal professionals who went to graduate faculty and haven’t paid their debt again. I don’t assume that’s proper for the American individuals.

MODERATOR: Let me simply ask particularly, with the plan to ease scholar mortgage debt, the debt forgiveness of $10,000, $20,000 {dollars} for Pell Grant recipients, do you help that place?

JOHN FETTERMAN: I do completely help that. I consider. Like I stated, it’s about serving to younger learners have the ability to get a greater begin, getting off within the begin of their life. And I do consider that and I consider a majority of Individuals help that as effectively, too.

AMY GOODMAN: That final reply — John Fetterman. Will Bunch, you’ve got written an entire guide on this topic, After the Ivory Tower Falls: How Faculty Broke the American Dream and Blew Up Our Politics — and How To Repair It. You take a look at how Individuals got here to owe $1.7 billion in scholar loans. Put what they’re saying in context.

WILL BUNCH: The underside line is that this: Each of them might have and will have given just a few extra specifics. Fetterman helps scholar debt reduction and Mehmet Ouncesopposes scholar debt reduction. Once more, if you wish to give attention to the problems, I feel that’s the vital takeaway for voters. Ouncess reply was not good. He gave type of the usual Republican trope about—or not trope; I imply, school directors are considerably overpaid. However even addressing that drawback is just a drop within the bucket while you’re speaking concerning the debt disaster, which is $1.7 trillion, which is simply an astronomical determine.

He additionally stated a line which I assumed ought to have gotten extra consideration, which is he thought his resolution to creating school extra inexpensive was to have extra digital courses. Which for those who bear in mind the peak of the COVID period, that was the most important criticism from college students and directors, was the sterileness of attempting to do school on-line. And but Ounceswas proposing this as a solution for faculty versus embracing liberal schooling and what that may do for our younger individuals. So I assumed Ouncess reply was horrible. I might preferred it to have seen extra specifics, once more, from Fetterman, however I feel, once more, his coronary heart is in the proper path, in that he desires scholar debt reduction and he desires to make school inexpensive for extra individuals.

AMY GOODMAN: You may have this newest information this week, the Republican-led states, a variety of them try to cease Biden from implementing his plan of debt reduction for some individuals. You write in your guide concerning the “school drawback,” as you set it, or the faculty, non-college divide. How do you see the faculty divide impacting the midterms and likewise the presidential election in 2024?

WILL BUNCH: I feel it might have a big effect on the midterms.

AMY GOODMAN: Clarify what you imply.

WILL BUNCH: I feel the hope is that younger voters are being attentive to this and that they perceive that one occasion is attempting to dam scholar debt reduction, as you stated. The Republicans not solely assume it’s a dangerous thought, however now you’ve got a variety of Republican officers going into court docket and attempting to dam this plan that might be $10,000 and even $20,000 of debt reduction for hundreds of thousands of younger and middle-aged individuals. President Biden is the one who lastly took some motion for the primary time in many years, actually, for the primary time because the Reagan period, to make larger schooling a public good, so to confess that all of us have a duty for making larger schooling inexpensive and an choice for our younger individuals. So I feel voters ought to see a distinction. Whether or not the Democrats can get that message out and energize younger voters who traditionally don’t prove in excessive charges within the midterms, to make them see that distinction and to get them to vote.

The Republicans try to play on working-class resentment. They’re saying that plumbers and taxi drivers and folks with out bachelor’s levels — and bear in mind, 63% of Individuals shouldn’t have a bachelor’s diploma. They’re attempting to play on class resentments about debt reduction to assist them on the polls. However I feel there’s a actual misunderstanding of who will get scholar loans. Frankly, lots of people who reside in these pink districts both are combating scholar loans or want to have entry to varsity that they’re being denied proper now. So on the Republican aspect, I feel there’s a basic misunderstanding of younger individuals, the faculty state of affairs and who’s getting these loans.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break. I additionally wish to — as you corrected me, $1.7 trillion, that’s the scholar debt problem on this nation. We’re speaking to Will Bunch, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and nationwide columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer. His guide After the Ivory Tower Fails. Once we come again, Will goes to stick with us, however we’re going to have a look at Penn State’s cancellation of a scholar occasion that includes Gavin McInnes, founding father of the far-right Proud Boys. We can be joined by one of many college students who opposed him having the ability to communicate. Then we’re going to have a look at the governor’s race that includes a candidate that chartered buses to go to the rebellion on January sixth. Stick with us.