CP Photo: Jamie Wiggan
Sen. Pat Toomey and Mehmet Oz in Pittsburgh on Fri., Sept. 30
Republican senatorial candidate Mehmet Oz painted a dystopian vision of Pennsylvania under the leadership of his Democratic opponent John Fetterman during a campaign stop in Pittsburgh today where he avoided substantial discussion about his own platform.
During the press-only event held at the Wyndham Grand Hotel, Oz characterized Fetterman as irresponsible and extreme, and repeatedly criticized his relatively low-profile campaign, which he said is leaving many voters without answers. He was joined on stage by outgoing GOP Sen. Pat Toomey.
"It's like working with a black hole, and these questions go in, but nothing legitimate comes back," Oz said.
Oz painted alarmist scenes of rising crime in Philadelphia, which he said would worsen if policies championed by Fetterman — a known criminal justice reformist — were to gain ground in Washington.
"When I was in graduate school, medical school in Philadelphia, you could walk through Kensington," he said. "You can't do that now, there are people with needles sticking out their bodies."
Oz criticized Fetterman's high tally of state pardons as lieutenant governor but did not discuss alternative policy steps he would take to address violent crime as a representative of the state in Washington.
Toomey, while insisting Oz was running on an "optimistic, positive message about the future," also devoted most of his short address to criticizing Fetterman's candidacy.
Toomey said Fetterman's positions on crime, health care, and taxation represent the far-left flank of the Democratic Party and are out of step with the leanings of most Pennsylvanian voters.
"In the end, I am very confident that voters will choose the common sense solutions offered by Dr. Oz instead of the radical agenda of John Fetterman," Toomey said.
Reached for a response, a Fetterman spokesperson told Pittsburgh City Paper
their candidate is campaigning vigorously despite the claims made by Oz that he's shirking public scrutiny.
"Today was just more desperate lying and mudslinging from Oz and his allies. Once again, Oz could not even muster up enough supporters to do a public event in Pittsburgh, because he knows no real voters would show up to hear him speak," said Joe Calvello, campaign spokesperson, in an email statement. "John is holding massive rallies across the state, regularly drawing over 1,000 Pennsylvanians. At these events, we hear from voters about how they do not want a Senator who is a complete fraud, not even from PA, and would be an automatic vote to ban abortion and overturn the next election for Trump."
Fetterman is set to hold a rally in Pittsburgh tomorrow with other Democratic leaders including Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey and congressional candidate, Summer Lee.
Jack Doyle, communications advisor for the state Democratic party, also issued a public statement shortly after Oz's visit to Pittsburgh.
“Mehmet Oz is an out of touch millionaire who will say anything to any audience to get elected and doesn’t know a thing about the lives of Pennsylvanians," he said. "If elected to the senate, he’d fight for millionaires with mansions while selling out Pennsylvania families every chance he gets.”
After defining his candidacy as "transparent" and open to "hard questions" in contrast to Fetterman's, Oz responded to several media questions but mostly avoided detailed policy decisions.
He reiterated his position as a "pro-life" candidate, noting exceptions in cases of parental life concerns, rape, and incest.
Pushed on whether he would support a nationwide ban on abortions after 15 weeks
, pushed by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Oz said he thinks decisions about abortion should be made at the state level.
Oz also spoke of natural gas as an important resource for Pennsylvania, which he said he would advocate for in Congress if he's elected in November. He said the energy industry is being "unfairly maligned" and described the policies envisioned by green-leaning progressive Democrats as "unrealistic."
"One of the smartest things we can do as a nation is to get natural gas out of the ground, which builds great local jobs here in Pennsylvania and allows manufacturing to thrive," he said.
Fetterman has historically criticized the practice of extracting gas through hydraulic fracturing but has recently softened his messaging,
noting a need for "energy security."
Fetterman has also consistently positioned himself as a strong supporter of abortion rights.
Since the two candidates emerged as primary winners in May, Fetterman has consistently led in polling, but recent surveys
show the race tightening as Election Day draws near.