Right-wing politicos and pundits wasted no time ramping up criticism of Mehmet Oz for the cardinal sin -- not holding true MAGA convictions -- after former president Donald Trump endorsed him Saturday for Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate seat.
“This is all about winning elections in order to stop the Radical Left maniacs from destroying our Country,” Trump’s quasi-literate statement read. “The Great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a Tremendous opportunity to Save America by electing the brilliant and well-known Dr. Mehmet Oz.”
But the Radical Right maniacs weren’t buying it. They responded with an avalanche of red-meat attacks on Oz ferocious enough to imply that Trump’s hold on his base is slipping,
Oz has been a frontrunner in the Republican primary for the seat to be vacated by the retirement of Sen. Pat Toomey. He had received criticism from campaign rivals for lacking proper MAGA credentials, but nothing as intense as what followed Trump’s surprise endorsement.
Alt-right activist Jack Posobiec unloaded on Oz in a Tweet:
“BREAKING: Here is Dr Oz promoting transgenderism in children. In the full episode he even promotes surgery for children This is not very conservative, Doc!”
Posobiec doubled up with another Tweet claiming that Oz “tried to cover it up, but it was archived.”
And there was this from Salon:
“Right-wing commentator John Cardillo also joined the chorus, calling Trump's latest imprimatur a ‘horrible call.’
“Trump's endorsement of Dr. Oz is inexcusable," Cardillo tweeted. He just put his political capital behind an anti-gun pro-abortion open borders Hollywood liberal. Oz will be another Mitt Romney in the Senate."
There was Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., a spurned former Trump endorsee, weighing in from the Deep South. “(Brooks) claimed that Trump had endorsed Oz because the former president is "surrounded himself by staff who are on [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell's payroll & hostile to the MAGA agenda,” Salon reported. “Everybody telling Trump who to endorse in primaries works for The Swamp."
This is happening because Trump\u2019s surrounded himself by staff who are on McConnell\u2019s payroll & hostile to the MAGA agenda. Everybody telling Trump who to endorse in primaries works for The Swamp.\n\nThey played him. Again.https://twitter.com/ewerickson/status/1512943781267529729\u00a0\u2026— Mo Brooks (@Mo Brooks) 1649552334
And this: “Meanwhile, Breitbart News' Joel Pollak wrote went a step further, claiming that Trump "could lose America First conservatives" over the endorsement.”
It was a jarring turn of events for Oz, who had kicked off his campaign saying, “We must confront those who want to change the very soul of America and reimagine it with their toxic ideology,” the New York Times reported.
Recent polling showed a tight battle in the race, with fellow business tycoon David McCormick maintaining a small lead over Oz in the large Republican field. But while Oz had drawn some criticism for lacking proper MAGA credentials, Trump’s endorsement apparently opened the floodgates.
As recently as a March 30 candidate forum, the top story was how Oz had been the focus of criticism from the other candidates. But the tone had been far more subdued.
McCormick, for example, was downright conventional in how he attacked Oz the presumed offense of for caring too much about the environment:
“McCormick pointed to Oz’s past comments and written columns raising concerns about health risks around fracking sites, including air and water contamination, breathing problems for people who live nearby, and other problems,” the Philadelphia Inquirer. And when Oz wondered aloud at a forum as to why all the other candidates were attacking him, one of his farthest-right challengers, conservative commentator Kathy Barnette, responded, “because he’s a liberal.”
But the red meat that was hurled since Trump’s endorsement took the attack to a different level. Whether that caught the former president’s inner circle off guard is unknown, but it left observers wondering why Trump weighed in for Oz.
One theory, reported by Axios, was that “Melania Trump, and Fox News' Sean Hannity, friends of Oz's, had been pressing Trump to back him, rather than choose McCormick or stay neutral, sources told Jonathan Swan.”
Whatever the reason, it was a far cry from last November 30 for Oz, when he announced his candidacy. Perhaps he assumed he was safe with his credentials as an early supporter of treating COVID-19 with the disproven drug hydroxychloroquine.
The New York Times noted at the time that Oz’s “political views are unknown.” Oz had “hosted Mr. Trump on his TV show in 2016 and was later named by him to a White House advisory council on sports and nutrition,” the newspaper reported.
But the Times added that Oz “is not known for denying the 2020 election results.” And that he “once described himself as a “moderate Republican” and said a political inspiration was Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former governor of California and a Trump critic.”
That pales in comparison to the tone of the current red-meat attacks. And as ABC News reported, Oz’s opponents aren’t going to let them go anytime soon.
“I don’t think the President is getting very good advice,” said Senate candidate Carla Sands, who served as Trump’s Danish ambassador.
“If you don’t want to send a RINO to represent us, I hope you’ll choose me, I’ll never let you down.”
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