Oz battles McCormick’s millions and Barnette push in final days of Pennsylvania Senate primary


Secane, Pennsylvania

Celebrity TV host Mehmet Oz arrived at a fire station in a small town outside of Philadelphia on Saturday, seeking to convince the roughly 25 people gathered that he was an integral part of the man-made MAGA movement who supported him, former President Donald Trump.

Challenges piled up against Oz in Pennsylvania’s crucial Republican Senate primary, from relentless attacks by one opponent portraying him as a “Hollywood liberal” to a late push from another grassroots-embraced candidate.

But here at Secane, Oz portrayed himself as the kind of conservative who “would never let you down,” proudly noting that Trump has said he’s the most eligible GOP candidate in the race that could determine the future. party control over the Senate.

“One of the reasons President Trump endorsed me,” the heart surgeon told potential voters gathered here, “is because after doing all the math who is most likely to win in November, he decided that I was the person.”

Subsequently, Oz seemed to win over at least one undecided voter, who had seen the attacks criticizing Oz’s past, more moderate views on Abortion and gun control. Jonathan Menta, a 52-year-old corporate audit manager, said he was impressed with the speech from Oz, particularly about increasing natural gas production in the state, and now saw himself as the sustain.

“I’ve gotten a lot of literature back home that says Dr. Oz is more Republican in name only,” Menta said. “It looks like today though, if he is true to his word and what he was talking about today, it could be a misinterpretation of his positions.”

Richard Koehler needed no convincing: he was already all in for Oz. “I like his ideas, his questions. It is conservative by nature and appears authentic.

The fact that Trump endorsed Oz “put the icing on the cake.”

Tuesday’s primary will not only nominate a GOP nominee in the decisive Senate race, but will also be the final test of Trump’s influence over the Republican Party.

Dozens of Trump supporters at rallies last week for deep-pocketed nominee David McCormick said Trump’s endorsement had not factored into their decision and expressed mistrust and aversion to Oz.

Jeff McHugh, 46, described Oz as a RINO – ‘Republican in name only’ – and said he believed Oz was only running as a Republican because he determined he could win the most support among this group of voters.

“I’m definitely a pro-Trump guy, but that doesn’t mean I’m pro-Oz,” McHugh said.

Larry, a 66-year-old retired entrepreneur wearing a MAGA hat, described Oz as “wrong” and “fake”.

“He’s going to be a defector. I don’t trust him. He has that look on his face. He has this smirk that I don’t like,” Larry said. He said he “can’t imagine” why Trump endorsed it.

Republican Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey, whose retirement created the race for the open seat, told CNN “it’s hard to say” what difference Trump’s endorsement of Oz will make.

“I think it’s entirely possible that it’s not a huge factor,” Toomey said, because Oz is already so well-known after 13 seasons of his daytime TV show. Toomey did not endorse any candidate.

Interviews with dozens of Republican voters across the state reveal that many are waiting until the last moment to decide which candidate they will vote for.

Rich Walzak, 64, said he was still undecided as he sought a trustworthy candidate who was determined to deliver on his promises and could beat a Democrat in November.

“Everyone has good points, but I’m looking for someone, whether it’s a man or a woman – keep your word. Be true to yourself,” Walzak said. “But you have to be realistic. It’s not so much who you love, it’s who can carry the bag.

The last Fox News Public Poll shows that Oz is statistically linked to hedge fund McCormick and political commentator Kathy Barnette. Barnette, a black woman, jumped in at the last minute, even though her campaign spent just $63,000 on air in the final week of the race.

She increased her support within the MAGA movement, after refusing to concede her 19-point loss to a 2020 US House seat, organizing buses to attend Trump’s ‘Stop the Steal’ rally on 6 January 2021, and research for fraudulent votes. She campaigned with Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, the presumptive frontrunner who pushed the lie that Trump won the 2020 election. And she underscored her anti-abortion stance by describing her personal story as daughter of a girl who had been raped.

This week, Barnette repeated it opposition to Mitch McConnell as the Republican leader in the Senate, while visiting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with a GOP delegation at the US Senate in kyiv on Saturday, and criticized Oz for not explicitly opposing a bill of $40 billion in aid to Ukraine. “America first,” she tweeted.

She has won support from socially conservative groups like Susan B. Anthony List and CatholicVote, and the anti-tax organization Club for Growth, which spends nearly $2 million on her behalf.

Janet Shearer, 76, said she was 75% sure she would vote for Barnette in the primary. “She tells it like it is and she’s a fighter and she loves Trump — and I love Trump,” Shearer said.

But seated at a table, Bill McCoach, 66, said he thought Barnette’s whole candidacy was a “scam”.

“She is on the left. She’s lying,” McCoach said.

Several other Republicans echoed McCoach’s skepticism, saying they didn’t know much about Barnette but had started hearing negative things about her over the past week.

Earl Olinger, 68, said he initially liked Barnette but changed his mind when he saw a TV ad this week accusing him of being “against Trump”.

“I’m a big Trump guy. So yeah, if you’re against Trump, I have a little problem with that because everything he did was good by my standards,” Olinger said.

Barnette’s lead worried Oz, McCormick and also Trump, who said in a recent statement that she could not win the general election. This week, an Oz-supporting super PAC posted an attack ad misleading viewers about its views on Black Lives Matter and systemic racism among police officers. Bob Gillies, Barnette’s campaign manager, told CNN her remarks were taken completely out of context to make it sound like she supported BLM even though she officially opposed it. “You have to play the whole video,” he said.

McCormick’s allies and advisers, who traveled to West Point and earned a Bronze Star while serving in the first Gulf War, raised questions about Barnette’s military service, including how she was fired from the army.

Barnette also has a history of anti-Muslim and anti-gay statements; Oz called some of his past tweets “clearly homophobic” or “Islamophobic.”

McCormick told CNN he “didn’t expect anything like it” for Barnette’s unexpected rise, in part because he had never run for office before. He also told the MAGA base in a podcast with former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon that he had “no allegiance” to McConnell and would oppose the Ukrainian bill.

Asked about Barnette, Oz replied: “The real question for a lot of voters is should they roll the dice?” He then accused the Club for Growth of “turning Kathy into a pawn in a fight with President Trump.”

“Funny things happen in multi-candidate races,” Toomey told CNN when asked about her polling wave, adding, “There’s a lot…voters don’t know about her.”

Barnette’s rise in the polls disrupted a primary race that was dominated for months by a tug-of-war between Oz and McCormick. Honor Pennsylvania, a McCormick-supporting super PAC, spent $17 million on ads almost exclusively attacking Oz before targeting Barnette this week.

During the ugly Senate primary, McCormick accused Oz of being a “Hollywood liberal” who had “dual loyalties” because he was a Turkish-American dual citizen. Oz, meanwhile, accused McCormick of being beholden to China, running an ad warning voters of McCormick’s financial investments in the country to the sound of a gong.

Oz on Saturday rejected attacks on its ties to Turkey, including those by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who held a press conference with McCormick’s campaign last week, raising questions about the “link of ‘Oz with the Turkish Government’. Oz was born in the United States and said he still has dual citizenship to help care for his mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease, in Turkey, but would give up his Turkish citizenship if he left. was elected.

“It’s a distraction, purely partisan,” Oz said in response to a question from CNN.

McCormick always defends himself against attacks that he is too comfortable with China. He spoke favorably of China as a top Treasury Department official in the George W. Bush administration and was CEO of huge hedge fund Bridgewater when the company raised $1.3 billion for a new fund. private in China. At a recent campaign event in Lititz, Pennsylvania, McCormick compared himself to Trump and said a small part of his global business is in China.

“By the way, that sounds a lot like President Trump, who did business in Russia, China and other countries before he came to power,” McCormick said at a campaign event on Friday. “No one has the credentials and the tenacity to take on China like me.”

This story has been updated with additional details.


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