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May 13, 2022

Mehmet Oz strives to ride Donald Trump's endorsement to GOP nomination in U.S. Senate race

The heart surgeon and TV personality is one of several Republican candidates looking to succeed Sen. Pat Toomey

Dr. Mehmet Oz is deploying the Donald Trump playbook in his attempt to become a U.S. Senator in Pennsylvania. And he has the support of the former president to back up his credentials.

Oz, 61, is making his first foray into politics after a three-decade career in medicine and nearly 20 years as a TV personality. He is one of several Republicans running to fill the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Pat Toomey. The primary is Tuesday.

MORE ELECTION COVERAGE: Pennsylvania race for open U.S. Senate seat is a focal point for party control in Washington, D.C.

Oz's entry into the Senate race last year drew criticism about his ties to Pennsylvania. Besides earning his medical degree and a master's degree in business at the University of Pennsylvania, Oz has very few connections to the state.

After having voted in North Jersey for three decades, Oz registered to vote at his wife's parents' home in Bryn Athyn, Montgomery County as a Republican in December 2020. 

Nevertheless, Oz has positioned himself in the race as a conservative with messaging similar to Trump. 

Oz said the COVID-19 pandemic and policy decisions made by leaders accelerated his entry into the election. He has argued that many COVID-19 deaths could have been prevented and that government policies during the public health crisis have caused "unnecessary suffering."

Playing off his career as a heart surgeon, Oz has said America's heartbeat "is in a code red in need of a defibrillator to shock it back to life."

If elected, Oz has pledged to prevent future lockdowns and keep children in school, reduce spending to bring down inflation, utilize Pennsylvania's natural gas and coal resources to help make the U.S. more energy-independent and increase funding for law enforcement agencies. 

Oz also has called for expanding the role of religious institutions and nonprofits in society, reducing prescription drug costs, enacting financial literacy classes in schools and proposing stricter voter ID laws.

Oz previously expressed support of abortion rights, saying that he disliked abortion but would not force his beliefs on others. But his campaign website says he's now "100% Pro-Life."

Oz has been criticized by the other Republican candidates for his position on fracking and his previous relationships with Democrats. That wasn't enough to prevent Trump from throwing his support behind Oz in April.

Rival candidates have sought to paint Oz as a carpetbagger seeking to buy the election and disqualify him from the race because of his Turkish citizenship. Oz is reported to have assets worth at least $100 million.

Oz's opponents have argued that his ties to business and political circles in Turkey could be used by Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan as leverage to influence Oz's decision-making.

Oz, a child of Turkish immigrants, has maintained dual citizenship to care for his ailing mother who lives in Turkey and suffers from Alzheimer's disease. If he wins, Oz would be the first U.S. senator to have served in a foreign military. 

Oz has promised to renounce his Turkish citizenship if he wins the election. He's labeled most of the concerns regarding his dual citizenship as examples of xenophobia.

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