Donald Trump has endorsed Dr Mehmet Oz for the Republican nomination for the Pennsylvania Senate, an expression of support for another TV star who could test the former president’s grip on his party.
Being on TV was “like a poll, it means people like you,” the former chairman and Celebrity Apprentice star said of Oz, a heart surgeon turned daytime host.
However, many on the Republican Party’s pro-Trump hard-right question whether Oz is a true conservative.
In a statement ahead of a rally in Selma, North Carolina on Saturday night, Trump said, “It’s about winning an election in order to stop the radical left maniacs from destroying our country.”
“The great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a tremendous opportunity to save America by electing the brilliant and well-known Dr. Mehmet Oz to the United States Senate.”
At his rally, Trump called Oz a “great guy, good man…Great career, great, Harvard-educated and they loved him for a long time. It’s like a poll. You know, when you’re on TV for 18 years is like a poll, it means people like you.
Trump previously endorsed Sean Parnell, who withdrew after being accused by his wife of abusive behavior, which he denied. David McCormick, a hedge fund executive, also sought Trump’s support.
The Senate is split 50-50, controlled by the vote of Vice President Kamala Harris. Control will be in play in November. Republicans have indicated they could use the Senate to deny Joe Biden another Supreme Court pick.
The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee has sought to portray Trump’s endorsement of Oz as divisive.
“The Republican Senate primary in Pennsylvania was already nasty, expensive and brutal,” mentioned a spokesperson, Patrick Burgwinkle. “Now, Trump’s endorsement will only escalate this intra-party struggle, just as it has in GOP Senate primaries across the country – leaving their ultimate candidate badly damaged and out of step with voters. who will decide the general elections.”
Oz has been accused of being out of step with Pennsylvania voters, including because he entered the race after living two decades in New Jersey. Her entry into politics also drew attention to her television career, which began on the Oprah Winfrey show.
In 2014, Oz Told senators, some products he promoted, including a “miracle” green coffee bean extract, lacked “scientific rallying point.” The following year, a group of prominent doctors accused Oz of displaying “a flagrant lack of integrity” and promoting “quack treatments”.
Politically, prominent pro-Trump figures have said Oz is not a conservative.
Former White House adviser Steve Bannon mentioned: “How Dr. Oz, probably the most anti-Maga guy, and you have Fox pimping that guy all the time and Newsmax pimping him, and that’s what it is – how Dr. Oz, from New Jersey , [Turkish president Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan’s Jersey-floating buddy, how does he become a factor in a Senate race in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania? »
In his endorsement, Trump said Oz was especially popular with women because of his daytime television work and could do well in Democratic-leaning cities Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The former president also mentioned his own controversial appearance on the Oz show during the 2016 campaign, when Trump showed partial results from a physical exam.
Trump said: “He even said I was in amazing health, which made me love him even more (although he also said I should lose a few pounds!)”
Trump, who appointed Oz to an advisory role in the White House, also cast him as anti-abortion, “very strong on crime, the border, voter fraud, our great military and our vets, tax cuts. taxes” and gun rights.
Oz said, “President Trump wisely endorsed me because I’m a conservative who will stand up to Joe Biden and the woke left.”
Polls show Oz and McCormick tied. The winner is expected to face Democrat John Fetterman, currently lieutenant governor, in the November election.
Speaking at Politicoone “person close to Trump…noted a line Trump said often when talking about Oz: ‘He’s been on TV in people’s bedrooms and living rooms for years’”.