Struggling Pennsylvania GOP Senate hopeful Dr. Mehmet Oz insisted on Thursday morning that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wasn’t referencing him when lamenting about the “candidate quality” of some of the party’s nominees.
Downplaying expectations of a “red wave” sweeping Democrats out of the Senate majority, McConnell said last week that “there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate.” Without naming names, the Kentucky lawmaker suggested a host of inexperienced Trump-backed candidates will weigh down the GOP’s chances.
“Senate races are just different—they're statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome,” he flatly told the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
Oz, who is currently trailing Democratic opponent John Fetterman by double digits in a slew of recent polls, denied to Fox Business Network anchor Maria Bartiromo that the GOP Senate leader thinks he was among those low-quality candidates.
“Are you getting support from the Republican Party?” Bartiromo began. “Look, let’s face it, people were a little taken back the other day when Mitch McConnell comes out and says, ‘Well, it’s probably 50/50, we’re not going to win because we have some bad candidates.’”
The pro-Trump business host wondered, “Was he talking about you?”
“He was not,” Oz confidently declared. “And I’ll tell you, he expressed himself quite clearly with his pocketbook. He’s put $34 million into my race. That’s a lot of money.”
The TV doctor continued: “And if you actually listen carefully what he was saying, he was highlighting the quality of the candidates matters a lot in a statewide race. It always matters. When you have to speak to a lot of constituents, you have to make sure you’re out there. I’ve been tireless. I’ve been campaigning tirelessly.”
Oz then took an unsubtle dig at the health of Fetterman, who is recovering from a stroke he suffered a few months back. Oz’s campaign recently sparked backlash by saying the Democratic candidate wouldn’t have had the stroke if he’d “ever eaten a vegetable” in his life.
“My opponent left his home twice to campaign,” Oz stated. “People in Pennsylvania want change. I’m the candidate for change.”
While the Trump-endorsed Oz is touting the amount of money that the Senate Leadership Fund has pledged to spend promoting his campaign, the National Republican Senatorial Committee recently slashed millions of ad dollars in Pennsylvania and other key GOP battleground states where GOP candidates are struggling.
Additionally, Oz has had a hard time gaining traction with Pennsylvania voters, especially as Fetterman and Democrats have portrayed him as a carpetbagging, out-of-touch elitist. The New Jersey native hasn’t been helped by recent headlines showing him complaining about the price of putting together a crudité platter or misleading about the number of houses he owns. (The answer is 10, by the way.)
Former President Donald Trump, unsurprisingly, has not taken kindly to McConnell’s apparent swipe at his hand-picked candidates.
After deriding the top GOP senator as a “broken down hack” who should spend “less time helping his crazy wife and family get rich on China,” Trump called for Republicans to boot McConnell from leadership. Elaine Chao, McConnell’s wife, served as Trump’s transportation secretary.