Dr. Oz Struggles in Primary Debate

Republican candidates seeking the Pennsylvania Senate seat being vacated by Senator Pat Toomey this year gathered in Harrisburg on April 25 for a debate with just weeks to go before the vote on May 17. Celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz is counting on his endorsement from former President Donald Trump to put him in the lead, but he struggled through a debate in which the other candidates took every opportunity to attack his record.

Oz faces attacks from other candidates

Dr. Oz coined a Trump-style nickname for frontrunner David McCormack, who he described as “dishonest Dave” early in the debate.

The two men have spent millions on ads attacking each other, with McCormack’s denunciations of Oz as a “Hollywood liberal” pretending to be a Republican becoming especially ubiquitous.

The other candidates were happy to join McCormack in attacking Oz, who was on the defensive for much of the debate as others sought to score points by challenging the biggest name in the race.

Particularly troubling for his campaign was the emphasis placed on candidates’ connections to Pennsylvania throughout the debate, something which most voters care about according to polls.

Oz has no real roots in the state, and was singled out by others on the stage as an opportunist who seeks to represent Pennsylvanians without knowing their priorities.

McCormack has also spent much of his life out of the state, but as a Pennsylvania native he has had more opportunities to dismiss the “carpet bagger” accusations aimed at the two by other candidates.

McCormack maintains his position in the lead

Oz depended on the Trump endorsement to convince viewers that attacks on his credibility as a conservative were unfounded.

He was not, however, Trump’s first choice in the race. He originally endorsed Sean Parnell, who dropped out of the race after allegations of domestic violence emerged.

After a lengthy pause, Trump endorsed Oz over the other candidates in the race who claim to be promoting his agenda.

Other candidates Kathy Barnette, Carla Sands, and Jeff Bartos are trailing behind McCormack and Oz, but with a large number of undecided voters there is still time to become a competitive option.

For the most part the debate did not provide that opportunity. No candidate had any great successes and no one was knocked out of the race.

The contest is still largely between Dr. Oz and McCormick, but the status quo favors the latter and the debate largely maintained that status quo.

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