Former President Donald Trump’s endorsement of Dr. Mehmet Oz, propelled the celebrity heart surgeon to a close victory in Pennsylvania’s Republican U.S. Senate primary. Oz narrowly defeating former hedge fund CEO David McCormick after a dayslong statewide recount buffeted by litigation that reached the nation’s highest court.
Instead of thanks, Oz has almost completely ditched Trump from his social media, website, and overall campaign.
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Before the primary, Oz’ Twitter account mentioned Trump’s endorsement almost 80 times. The former president was omnipresent in Oz’ television ads. Oz’ social media accounts were emblzed with banners that read “endorsed by Trump,” and his website had a “Trump-endorsed” pop-up ad.
Now that he’s won the Republican nomination, Oz hasn’t mentioned Trump once.
Thanks a lot.
In November’s general election, Oz faces Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who is off the campaign trail while he recovers from a stroke and a serious heart condition. Democrats view the race as perhaps their best opportunity to pick up a seat in the race to replace retiring two-term Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.
The national parties and Fetterman have begun general election campaign strategies and airing TV ads in Pennsylvania.
Trump endorsed Oz about five weeks before the primary, saying his decision was “all about winning elections.” The former president also had a long personal history with Oz, who is best known as the host of daytime TV’s “The Dr. Oz Show.”
Trump said his wife, Melania, was a big fan of the show. But Oz barely won, a narrow victory largely credited to Trump’s boost. In the closing days of the campaign, Trump held a rally for Oz and viciously attacked Oz’s closest rivals, including McCormick and conservative activist Kathy Barnette, who finished third.
Oz, who has dual citizenship in Turkey, would be the nation’s first Muslim senator if elected.
Entering the general election, Oz has “embraced the former president where it counts, while keeping him at arm’s length in situations where his brand is toxic,” Axios reported.
Fetterman, meanwhile, is recovering from a stroke he suffered just days before his own primary, which he easily won. He said last week that he “almost died” from the stroke, acknowledging that he had ignored warning signs for years and a doctor’s advice to take blood thinners.
His cardiologist also disclosed that Fetterman is being treated for a serious heart condition that can be fatal. He has remained out of public view and has given no date to return to campaigning.
While Fetterman convalesces, his campaign has launched two TV ads in which Fetterman casts himself as a regular guy who will “take on Washington” — perhaps a nod to political headwinds for President Joe Biden and fellow Democrats as Americans report being skeptical about the economic outlook and Biden’s poor record.
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In one ad, Fetterman rails against outsourced jobs, closed factories, rising costs, and low wages, saying “those decisions were made for us by people that don’t know us.”
National Republicans, meanwhile, are trying to tie Fetterman to his party’s most liberal members and to the Biden administration. In a statement Wednesday evening, Oz said Pennsylvanians “want someone who will stand up to the liberal Biden-Fetterman agenda leading to higher gas prices, record inflation, and unprecedented levels of violent crime.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article