Activist state

Trump’s endorsement hangs over prime-time GOP Senate debate


FILE – Mehmet Oz attends a forum for Republican U.S. Senate candidates in Pennsylvania during the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference in Camp Hill, Pa. April 2, 2022. Former President Donald Trump’s late endorsements in the hypercompetitive Senate primaries Republican in Ohio and Pennsylvania have unleashed a flood of support for its chosen candidates, including millions in cash. But the endorsements also drew backlash from some Republicans. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)


Candidates for the Republican nomination for Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate seat waded into Monday night’s live prime-time television debate with further incitement to attack Mehmet Oz after the famed heart surgeon received the endorsement from former President Donald Trump.

And they attacked it, almost solidly throughout the hour-long debate at WHTM-TV’s studio with just three weeks until the May 17 primary election.

Former hedge fund CEO David McCormick called Oz a “flip-flopper” to suggest he claims to be a conservative.

Former Trump ambassador Carla Sands called it “Turkey First” – as a play on Trump’s “America First” philosophy of government – to highlight Oz’s Turkish citizenship.

And conservative activist Kathy Barnette said Trump only endorsed Oz because Oz was well known.

Earlier this month, Trump endorsed Oz — best known as the daytime TV host of “The Dr. Oz Show” — and Trump’s endorsement loomed over the debate. Oz brought it up several times, just hours after Trump announced he would be coming to western Pennsylvania next week. for a rally to promote Oz.

Oz fought back valiantly. People care what he stands for, not where he comes from, he said. Trump endorsed it because he is a true conservative, he said. And he keeps his Turkish nationality to visit his sick mother in Turkey, he said.

He also counter-hit, mostly against McCormick. He accused McCormick of lying on his record and repeating Trump’s suggestion that McCormick was “pro-China” because of McCormick’s former hedge fund portfolio that catered to Chinese investors investing in China. China.

“The dishonest Dave is back,” Oz said. “He went crawling to President Trump with – again – these types of allegations. President Trump saw through him, didn’t approve of him, and then he approved of me.

McCormick has repeatedly attacked Oz, asking virtually every question about Oz’s long public history as a television show host and accusing him of having long held liberal positions.

“The reason Mehmet keeps talking about endorsing President Trump is because he can’t run on his own positions and his own records, and what’s true is that he flip-flopped. face on all the major issues that we’re talking about in this campaign,” McCormick said.

Next, McCormick slipped in a reference to criticism that Oz promoted quack treatments and cures on his show.

“And the problem doctor is there’s no magic bullet to turn around,” McCormick said.

The race is mostly a costly duel between McCormick and Oz, who combined — with super PACs backing them — reported spending more than $37 million of the more than $50 million reported spent on the United States primary. GOP.

The five candidates on stage hit the polling threshold set by the station’s parent company as they vie for the nomination in a seven-person field to succeed retired Republican Senator Pat Toomey in the field state of presidential battle.

The campaign is one of the top Senate contests this year, with the mat being a significant and persistent issue after the recent arrival of three wealthy and well-connected candidates from other states – McCormick, Oz and Sands.

Real estate investor Jeff Bartos summed up the debate in his closing remarks by saying “out-of-state candidates were fighting each other” as he argued his case as the only Pennsylvanian in a lifetime in racing.

Otherwise, the candidates all seemed to agree with the party’s talking points, including on the issue of banning abortion, banning transgender women from participating in women’s sports, criticism of the management of the economy and the border by President Joe Biden and promoting Trump’s baseless plot that Democrats stole the 2020 presidential election.

They were also careful to demonstrate their commitment to Trump’s principles.

Sands argued that her service on Trump’s economic council and as ambassador to Denmark made her the only proven candidate for America First.

“I did it,” Sands said. “Everybody talks about it.”

On a question about how to deal with supply chain issues, McCormick took umbrage at Bartos’ suggestion that out-of-state candidates “can’t help save Main Street Pennsylvania if you don’t can’t find Main Street Pennsylvania”.

“I’m not going to be out of Pennsylvania or America first by anyone on this stage,” McCormick said.

Barnette — who has allied with pro-Trump conservatives — took a different approach: Trump’s Make America Great, or MAGA, slogan doesn’t belong to Trump, she said.

“MAGA does not belong to President Trump,” Barnette said. “MAGA, although he coined the word, MAGA actually belongs to the people. Our values ​​have never, ever changed to President Trump’s values. It was President Trump who changed and aligned with our values.”


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