Dr. Mehmet Oz, who earned former President Donald Trump’s primary-race endorsement in April, is going down in flames according to a new GOP poll.
Republican-affiliated Public Opinion Strategies reports that surgeon-turned-TV-host Dr. Oz trails Democrat John Fetterman by nearly 20 points.
Trump gave Oz his “complete and total endorsement” before the wide-open GOP primary of six candidates, a move that probably sealed the deal with Pennsylvania Republicans.
The doc won in a squeaker, barely beating out second-place finisher David McCormick, 31.2% to 31.1%.
The former president praised Oz’s positions on abortion, crime, the Second Amendment, border security, the military, education, energy independence, and election fraud. Those are all well and good, but before lending an endorsement, someone in Trump’s position first needs to determine whether the recipient is at all likely to win the general election.
In Dr. Oz’s case, right now that’s a big, fat NO.
Let’s face it: He is not a good candidate.
After winning his primary, Oz went AWOL.
While Fetterman was literally incapacitated by a stroke, the doc failed to capitalize on a prime opportunity to define himself and his prone opponent:
Recent reporting suggests that Oz might not have taken advantage of those several weeks where Fetterman was sidelined, a significant span of time during a race that could be integral to party control of the Senate.
Puck is reporting that the former TV personality was in Palm Beach, Florida, until June 9 at least, not holding his first post-primary event until June 10. Oz reportedly also traveled to Ireland to visit family at the end of June and did not return until early July.
If anything, I’m reminded of the Summer of ’88, when Democratic presidential nominee Mike Dukakis took time off from the campaign — time that GOP candidate George H.W. Bush took full advantage of to define Dukakis as too liberal and soft on crime.
This summer, Trump himself is reportedly frustrated with the former Oprah regular’s barely-there campaign:
Sources tell Puck that Donald Trump, who enraged some of his base by supporting Oz, is now complaining to his Fox News bud Sean Hannity about his poor performance. Hannity was the one who coaxed Trump to endorse him in the first place, and throw in the fact that Hannity hasn’t had Trump on his show since April, he must be hopping mad.
You should take all “sources tell” reports with a grain of salt, but Oz is in such bad shape that the National Republican Senatorial Committee has canceled $5 million worth of TV advertising and will divert it to more winnable races.
When Oz does try to connect with Pennsylvania voters, it doesn’t always work.
The clip has been mocked as Oz’s “I mean it’s one banana, Michael, what could it cost, 10 dollars?” moment.
Oz himself admits that he was “exhausted” when he made the video.
Fetterman raked in half a million dollars in campaign donations in the 24 hours after that video was released.
The spike in donations between Monday and Tuesday afternoon was “well above” the campaign’s average rate, Fetterman’s communications director, Joe Calvello, told CNBC on Wednesday.
Even if Oz does win, you get the feeling that the conservative-come-lately might be another Mitt Romney, but lacking the warm, common touch that’s made Mitt a favorite on both sides of the aisle.
(Take a moment to wipe the excess sarcasm off your screen.)
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Maybe I’m wrong.
Maybe the GOP’s Pennsylvania field was so weak that Trump really did endorse the best candidate — even if he isn’t very good.
Maybe Dr. Oz will warm up on the campaign trail and deliver a win. His campaign positions, particularly on energy, are much closer to the typical Pennsylvanian’s than Fetterman’s.
Maybe the GOP’s path to a Senate majority doesn’t run through the Keystone State.
Maybe Pennsylvania, even with a stronger Republican candidate, isn’t winnable.
Maybe the Senate is just not the GOP’s for the taking this year. Like my friend and colleague Stephen Kruiser, I had very little hope of the Republicans winning the Senate this year — right up until the Biden DOJ’s ham-fisted Mar-a-Lago raid.
But Trump himself won Pennsylvania convincingly in 2016, and we’ll probably never know the full extent of 2020’s election-night shenanigans there. So I can’t help but think that with a stronger candidate, the GOP could pick off Pennsylvania’s open seat.
Then there are two of Trump’s other Senate endorsements — J.D. Vance in Ohio and Hershel Walker in Georgia. Both of those races ought to be near shoo-ins, but both Trump-endorsed candidates are struggling.
I don’t know what’s gone wrong with The Donald’s endorsement radar, but it seems to be giving false returns.