Fetterman (D), who initially downplayed the severity of the stroke just before the May primary and has slowly made his way back to the campaign trail, said earlier this month that he is “grateful” to be alive. On Wednesday, he said the remark by his Republican foe, who hosted a reality show with medical advice, has brought the race to a new rhetorical low.
“I had a stroke. I survived,” Fetterman said in a statement. “I know politics can be mean, but even then I could never imagine making fun of someone for their health problems.”
In addition to that statement, Fetterman’s campaign also released a letter on Wednesday from more than 100 doctors in the state criticizing Oz for what they said is its history of “promoting unproven, unwise, and sometimes potentially dangerous treatments.”
“As a celebrity doctor on TV, Mehmet Oz has shown an outrageous disregard for medical science and the well-being of his public,” the doctors wrote in the letter.
Oz has promoted dubious weight-loss cures and suggested chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19 in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a report released Wednesday, the House select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis said White House officials and outside allies like Oz also pressed federal officials in 2020 to approve hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment.
The latest clash between Fetterman and Oz comes as Democrats try to maintain their razor-sharp control of the Senate in the midterm elections, which have historically seen losses for the party that controls the White House. Oz narrowly won the Republican nomination, thanks in part to his personal fortune and an endorsement from former President Donald Trump.
The candidates have traded barbs in public statements and via social media. Fetterman’s team has tried to portray Oz as a wealthy New Jersey carpet dredger; Team Oz depicts Fetterman as a soft-on-crime, refuge-town supportive socialist.
The race memes have sometimes inadvertently produced hilarious moments and contributed to the perception that momentum is with Fetterman. In April, Oz released a video in which, in an effort to discuss inflation, he bought vegetables in a supermarket. “That’s $20 for raw food!” said Oz in the video.
The video later went viral after viewers noted that Oz said he’d shopped at a “Wegner’s,” which doesn’t exist, but sounded like a combination of supermarkets Redner’s and Wegman’s, and most people would call what he was putting together. simply, as a vegetable dish.
Oz’s campaign is keeping the issue alive for more than a week in its criticism of Fetterman’s eating habits on Tuesday. Fetterman, meanwhile, took advantage of it, saying his campaign raised half a million dollars through the video, including $65,000 from a sticker that reads, “Wegners: Let Them Eat Crudite.”
Fetterman also mocked Oz after the Daily Beast revealed he owns 10 properties, instead of the two he had publicly acknowledged.
Oz defended himself by saying he bought his homes with his own money — a swipe at Fetterman, who relied on significant financial support from his family until he became lieutenant governor in 2019.
The two compete for the seat of Senator Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), who is retiring at the end of his term.