Wading through a tight Republican Senate primary in Pennsylvania, former President Donald J. Trump endorsed Mehmet Oz on Saturday, throwing his weight behind the former ‘The Dr. Oz Show’ star, who came under attack from rivals in as a closet liberal. Dr. Oz’s stardom appears to have been a deal breaker for the former president, whose own political career was grounded in reality TV.
“I have known Dr. Oz for many years, as have many others, even if only through his highly successful television show,” Mr. Trump said in an announcement, overshadowing a rally that he was hosting at the same time in North Carolina, where his endorsement of Rep. Ted Budd in a tight Republican Senate race is also seen as crucial.
“He lived with us through the screen and was always popular, respected and intelligent,” Mr Trump added. He cited an appearance he made on the Dr. Oz daytime television show in the midst of the 2016 presidential race, when Mr. Trump showed partial results from a physical exam. “He even said I was in amazing health,” Mr. Trump said, “which made me love him even more (although he also said I should lose a few pounds!). “
The former president also highlighted Dr. Oz’s eligibility, citing his appeal to women due to his daytime TV show. Women “are drawn to Dr. Oz for his guidance and advice,” Mr. Trump said, adding, “I’ve seen this many times over the years. They know him, believe in him and trust him. Mr Trump predicted that Dr Oz would do “very well” in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, which are Democratic strongholds.
A wealthy first-time contender, Dr. Oz is in a bitter and costly battle with another super-rich rival for the GOP nomination, David McCormick, former chief executive of the world’s largest hedge fund. Both candidates have eagerly sought Mr. Trump’s endorsement, both personally and through surrogates, as they clumsily remade themselves from establishment Republicans to appeal to the far-right base of Mr. Trump. Dr. Oz hailed the endorsement in a statement that read, “President Trump has wisely endorsed me because I am a conservative who will stand up to Joe Biden and the woke left.”
A poll last week by Emerson College and The Hill found a virtual tie between the two candidates among highly likely primary voters, with Mr McCormick at 18%, Dr Oz at 17% and 33% undecided.
Pennsylvania’s race to take the seat of incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, is widely seen as one of the most pivotal in both parties’ quests for control of the Senate this year. Democrats have their own hard-fought primary, featuring Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Rep. Conor Lamb.
After Mr. Trump’s endorsement, Mr. McCormick’s top strategist, Jeff Roe, tweeted that Mr. McCormick “is going to be the next senator” from Pennsylvania.