PA.’S TUNKHANNOCK — Republican candidate Mehmet Oz was hosting a town hall in this small community northwest of Scranton on the day that Pennsylvania Democratic Senate contender John Fetterman started a TikTok account.
In a sense, it was a distillation of the two candidates’ various styles. The various tactics are at least somewhat motivated by Fetterman’s May stroke, which has restricted his in-person activities (he held a rally in Erie on Aug. 12, and more events are being scheduled).
Oz criticized Fetterman’s more virtual approach on Thursday night.
He will consent to having a hologram of himself made by his handlers, a fictional persona that will only ever appear on television. And after that, you’ll be asked to cast a ballot, which is dangerous for democracy, claimed Oz. “Because we’re supposed to be able to vote for individuals we can see a judge with our own eyes, hear with our own ears, and watch how they respond under pressure,” the voter explains.
The Fetterman campaign’s efforts to advance the narrative through social media appear to be succeeding, according to financial and polling statistics. According to the most current records with the Federal Election Commission, the Democrat’s campaign had roughly $5.5 million at the beginning of July compared to Oz’s $1.1 million.
After an April Oz campaign ad featuring the Republican in a grocery store fruit aisle went viral last week, Fetterman’s team said it raised over $1 million in just three days. According to a recent poll done for the business and labor group Pittsburgh Works Together, Fetterman is in the lead by 18 points.
Democrats are portraying Oz as a wealthy millionaire from New Jersey who is out of touch. They have also pounced upon a recent Daily Beast article in which the Republican claimed to own only two residences, but the publication later revealed that he actually owns ten. A made-for-social-media video from the Fetterman campaign included the theme song, Family Feud segments, and the game show “How many houses do you own?”
Oz’s response on Thursday focused on criticizing Fetterman’s “privileged” upbringing.
“My opponent, in his own words, grew up in an affluent atmosphere and had his lifestyle, up until very recently, paid for by his parents. He paid his sister $1 to buy his house. Now, when you lead a life like that, you have quite different expectations and views about the function of government, according to Oz.
Oz, who is best known for being a television personality doctor, frequently mentions the success of his medical career and TV show, but he also enjoys discussing how his father’s life began in Turkey.
When you have a dirt floor inside, you don’t have much, right? That’s how my father grew up. Oz stated on Thursday, reiterating the message he gave the previous evening in Philadelphia at a Republican Jewish Coalition gathering.
On Thursday night, Oz declined to take questions from the few reporters who had traveled to Wyoming County. Questions about recent Democratic attacks on his real estate holdings as well as inquiries about the legal standing of former President Donald Trump, whose endorsement resurrected Oz’s flagging campaign in a fiercely contested Republican primary, would undoubtedly have come up.
The reason for the hasty withdrawal, according to the candidate, was the necessity to drive to meet a Fox News Channel satellite truck off the highway in order to make a scheduled appearance on Sean Hannity’s TV show.
Oz did reply to a number of policy queries from audience members at the town hall, including inquiries regarding veterans and rural issues. His recent schedule, which included appearances at agricultural fairs across the commonwealth, may have paid off.
When asked what he had discovered while campaigning in rural Pennsylvania, Oz responded, “I’ve learned a lot about farming,” to some laughs. “We’ve talked about the riches that exists below the Earth’s surface, but the wealth that exists above it, particularly with our crops, is enormous. And a variety of factors harm our farmers.
The impact of estate taxes on farmers was one of the topics Oz went on to discuss, as was the experience of an apple grower who encountered legal trouble in Pennsylvania for giving kids tractor rides during the pick-your-own apple season.
Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., retired from the Senate, and Fetterman and Oz are vying to take his seat. Preserving the seat in Republican hands is crucial to the party’s efforts to tip the 50-50 Senate balance in its favor.
The Roll Call article Oz tries to mobilize GOP against extremely online Fetterman campaign first appeared.
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