Oz’s Great Escape

Dr. Mehmet Oz
Dr. Mehmet Oz. Photo: Jared Siskin/Getty Images
Tara Palmeri
July 28, 2022

To the G.O.P. establishment—a club that Dr. Mehmet Oz is eager to join—the aspiring senator from Pennsylvania is running a lazy man’s campaign. He has at least one big advantage over his opponent, John Fetterman: namely his health. Fetterman, after all, has understandably been M.I.A. on the campaign trail since his stroke in mid-May, around the time of the primary election. 

And although Oz faced a brutal, exhaustive, and expensive primary against David McCormick, seasoned political professionals tell me that Oz should have been filling that vacuum with rallies, events, advertising, handshaking, door knocking and mainly, you know, campaigning. Instead, around the time of the recount, Oz spent part of his time in Pennsylvania and the other part of the time in Palm Beach until at least June 9, waiting it out and doing some fundraising. His first post-primary event was June 10. Then, at the end of June, Oz flew off to Europe, specifically to Ireland, to see family until early July. 

That, apparently, was one vacation too many. Indeed, it was a move that greatly annoyed the National Republican Senatorial Committee, I’m told, which has effectively and occasionally brilliantly been shepherding the campaigns of neophytes like Oz, Herschel Walker and J.D. Vance. (“Anyone making statements about the N.R.S.C. are either lying or mistaken,” said the group’s spokesperson, Chris Hartline.)

A recent Suffolk University poll now shows Fetterman leading Oz by 46 to 37 percent. Even Trump is complaining about Oz to Sean Hannity, who coaxed him to endorse the TV doctor, saying that he’s running a terrible campaign, even though Oz has some of the best political professionals TV money can buy, like Chris Hansen. “No one can believe that he took a damn vacation at the end of June, after only coming back to the state on June 10,” said a Republican strategist. “He screwed up with that video that was from his New Jersey house instead of Pennsylvania house. It’s really bad.” 

Oz is back on the campaign trail for now. He has a new ad on crime, paid for in part by the N.R.S.C. His campaign said that since the recount, he has done over 115 campaign events including business tours, meet n’ greets, rallies, speeches, roundtable discussions and public event drop-bys. 

As for Fetterman, his team did not get back to me with an update on when exactly he will be returning to the campaign trail after having a pacemaker with a defibrillator attached to his heart. Last week, he said in an interview that he thinks he’ll be returning to the trail “very soon.” Hartline, the N.R.S.C. spokesman, made a point to note that while Oz has been back canvasing the state, Fetterman “has been off the campaign trail for almost three months and refusing to answer questions from voters or reporters about his radical agenda that would hurt Pennsylvania families.”