As he slowly made his way back on the campaign trail, saying he was “grateful” to be alive, Fetterman (D) said Wednesday that the comment from the Republican foe, who hosted a medical advice reality show, had drawn the race to a new rhetorical bottom.
“I had a stroke. I lived through it,” Fetterman said in a statement. “I know politics can be nasty, but even then, I could never imagine making fun of someone for their health issues.”
In addition to that statement, Fetterman’s campaign on Wednesday also released a letter from more than 100 doctors in the state criticizing Oz for what they said is his history of “promoting unproven, ill-advised and sometimes potentially dangerous treatments.”
“As a television celebrity physician, Mehmet Oz demonstrates a shameful disregard for medical science and the well-being of his audience,” the doctors wrote in the letter.
Oz promoted dubious weight loss drugs and in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic suggested chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as treatments for covid-19.
In a report released Wednesday, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis said White House officials and outside allies like Oz also pressured federal officials in 2020 to authorize hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment.
The latest clash between Fetterman and Oz comes as Democrats seek to maintain their slim grip on the Senate in midterm elections that have historically seen losses for the party that controls the White House. Oz narrowly won the GOP nomination thanks in part to his personal wealth and the support of former President Donald Trump.
The candidates have traded criticism in public statements and through social media. Fetterman’s team tried to portray Oz as a rich man from New Jersey; Team Oz portrays Fetterman as a soft-on-crime, city-of-sanctuary, supportive socialist.
The race memes sometimes make for unintentionally funny moments and help reinforce the sense that the momentum is with Fetterman. In April, Oz released a video of himself buying vegetables at a supermarket in an attempt to discuss inflation. “That’s $20 for crudite!” Oz said in the video.
The video later went viral after viewers noted that Oz said he shopped at “Wegner’s,” which doesn’t exist but sounds like a combination of Redner’s and Wegman’s supermarkets, and that most people would call what he collects , simple, like a vegetable tray.
The Oz campaign, in its criticism of Fetterman’s eating habits on Tuesday, has kept the issue alive for more than a week. Fetterman, meanwhile, took advantage, saying his campaign raised half a million dollars for the video, including $65,000 from a sticker saying, “Wegners: Let them eat Crudite.”
Fetterman also mocked Oz after the Daily Beast revealed he owned 10 properties instead of the two he publicly admitted.
Oz defended himself by saying he bought the houses with his own money — a blow to Fetterman, who relied on significant financial help from his family until he became lieutenant governor in 2019.
The two are vying for the seat held by Senator Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), who retired at the end of his term.