Dr. Oz's election campaign is going so bad, he's now telling voters to ignore what it's saying
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Mehmet Oz, the celebrity surgeon and Republican nominee for US Senate in Pennsylvania, suggested Tuesday that voters should listen only to him – and not to what his election campaign has to say.
Oz was pressed by KDKA radio hosts in Pittsburgh about whether it was "appropriate" for Rachel Tripp, his campaign’s senior communications adviser, to say last week that the Democratic nominee, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, might not have suffered a stroke in May if he "had ever eaten a vegetable in his life."
"The campaigns are saying lots of things, both of them," Oz said. "My position is – I can only speak to what I’m saying – is that John Fetterman should be allowed to recover fully. And I will support his ability, as someone who is going through a difficult time, to get ready."
The 62-year-old long-time New Jersey resident said he feels "tremendous empathy" as a medical professional for Fetterman, while repeatedly returning to his frustration that the Democrat won’t commit to a schedule for debates.
But Oz the doctor seemed at odds with Oz the candidate.
"I have no idea if he’s recovered. He’s told us nothing," Oz said. "And it's actually up to him to decide when he’s comfortable sharing with that. Again, I’m a physician first."
The Oz flip-flop
Fetterman, who has been venturing back onto the campaign trail after months mostly out of sight, responded to Tripp’s quip last week by tweeting: "I know politics can be nasty, but even then, I could never imagine ridiculing someone for their health challenges."
Oz has some history with disavowing things said in his name. In April, he distanced himself from a series of columns that ran under his name, calling for stricter gun control laws and a national ban on assault-style weapons.
His campaign has also suffered from a string of gaffes that lend themselves very well to memes, such as a disastrous video in which he misnamed the grocery store he was in and railed about the rising prices of "crudités" – more commonly referred to as a veggie platter.
Rebecca Katz, a Fetterman campaign strategist, quickly took to Twitter on Tuesday in response to Oz’s comments, saying Oz should "either stand by the sh**ty things this campaign is saying on your behalf or denounce it."
Oz’s campaign issued a statement Tuesday from another spokesperson, Brittany Yanick, that called Fetterman’s lack of response to debate invitations "almost criminal."
The campaign did not say if Oz endorsed that message.
Cover photo: JEFF SWENSEN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP