A speech by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz calling for an end to extremism and political division was met with resounding cheers Wednesday night during a campaign stop in Elizabethtown.
Oz told the crowd of nearly 100 people that he’s not interested in joining the ranks of career politicians, stressing instead that he’s a surgeon first.
“I’m not a politician. And I like it that way,” Oz said. “We have to have less extremism and more balance in Washington.”
Wednesday night’s rally at the Star Barn at Stone Gables Estate was part of Oz’s weeklong tour across the state. On Tuesday, the Republican stopped in Bucks County and is scheduled to spend the remaining five days of the campaign in Lackawanna, Allegheny, Northampton and Montgomery counties.
CARLISLE – Lt. Gov. John Fetterman brought his “get-back-up” road show to an unscheduled sto…
Several voters in attendance Wednesday noted Oz’s unique position as a celebrity-turned-politician as one reason for their support. Several said they believe he will be able to bridge party divides if elected Tuesday.
Grace and Mike Devine call themselves “die hard” Republicans who have never strayed from the party, and said they prefer to see candidates like Oz and former President Donald Trump who don’t have a history in politics. The West Hempfield couple said they were fans of Oz when he was still a reality TV star, and even had a black pomeranian named after him.
“We have to see him,” Grace Devine said before Oz took the stage.
As for Oz’s policies, Mike Devine said he supports the Republican’s anti-abortion stance, which he attributed to Oz being a physician who stands up for his patients.
Former Manheim Borough Mayor Eric Phillips also said he believes Oz would be able to “bridge party lines” if elected. In addition, he cited Oz’s support for fracking technology used to access natural gas trapped in rock under large portions of Pennsylvania.
Oz briefly spoke of his plans to make Pennsylvania energy independent, lower inflation and start the process of healing “self-inflicted wounds” to the U.S. economy.
Other local Republican politicians came out to support Oz Wednesday night, including county Commissioners Ray D’Agostino and Josh Parsons, state Sen. Ryan Aument, and U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker.
Smucker took the stage before Oz to emphasize the importance of Pennsylvania as a swing state in this year’s midterm election. The congressman urged supporters to encourage their friends to vote.
“This is an agenda that holds government accountable and gives voices back to the people,” he said. “The path to victory in the House and the Senate runs right through Pennsylvania.”
Another theme throughout Oz’s short speech was crime. The Republican repeatedly brought up concerns about the synthetic opioid fentanyl, which he said can only be solved with stronger restrictions to the border. Drug enforcement officials say much of the dangerous narcotic is illegally imported over the U.S.-Mexico border.
Oz criticized Democratic opponent John Fetterman, who he said is not as tough on crime as he should be. He also called Fetterman an “extreme” candidate, and has blasted Fetterman’s record on the state board of pardons throughout the campaign.
Oz did not bring up Fetterman’s health during his speech in Lancaster County. Fetterman suffered a stroke in May, and Oz was critical of the Democrat’s silence on his health throughout the summer months. Despite a clean bill of health from his physician, Fetterman said he still experiences problems understanding spoken speech and he struggles at times to summon the right word when speaking.
With just days remaining in the campaign, Fetterman and Oz are fighting over any remaining undecided voters and rallying their core supporters to vote.
Polls show the race as a toss up. The most recent Franklin & Marshall College Poll showed Fetterman with a four-point lead over Oz. But a Morning Call/Muhlenberg College poll report Tuesday showed the candidates at an even split.
Wednesday night’s venue, Stone Gables Estate, has been criticized for its policy of refusing bookings for same-sex weddings. In 2019, Discover Lancaster pulled out of hosting its annual meeting at the facility after the owners refused to reconsider the policy. The owner said at the time that the Star Barn property was not available to any groups or events “that are in direct opposition to our constitutionally-protected right to the free exercise of our religion.”
Fetterman, called out Oz’s decision to book the site several times throughout the day, noting his support for same-sex weddings and his experience officiating several ceremonies.
“Unlike Oz,” he said on Twitter, “I’m still proudly on the right side of history.”
In 2013, I was actually the first elected official in Western PA to solemnize same-sex weddings.I knew that I was on the right side of history – even back then.And unlike Dr. Oz, I’m still proudly on the right side of history now. 🏳️🌈 https://t.co/kSfsJVx2ze
— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) November 3, 2022
K. Foley, executive director of Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition, said where Oz chose to host the rally is not the “most pressing issue” but still speaks volumes.
“We are dealing with an election where LGBTQ+ lives are literally at stake. The attacks are targeting the most vulnerable parts of our community: our children,” Foley said in a statement.
“We are watching bills being passed making it illegal — actually illegal — to offer children lifesaving health care — let alone the open debates around their ability to just play a sport like any child deserves.”