Oz takes a shot at Fetterman’s health; Doctors fire back against ‘shameful’ practices

‘If John Fetterman had ever eaten a vegetable in his life, then maybe he wouldn’t have had a major stroke and wouldn’t be in the position of having to lie about it constantly,’ Rachel Tripp, Oz’s senior communications advisor, told Business Insider

By: - August 24, 2022 9:31 am

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz (LevittownNow.com photo)

The mudslinging between U.S. Senate candidates Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz escalated this week, with the celebrity doctor turned political candidate making jabs about his opponent’s health.

“If John Fetterman had ever eaten a vegetable in his life, then maybe he wouldn’t have had a major stroke and wouldn’t be in the position of having to lie about it constantly,” Rachel Tripp, Oz’s senior communications advisor, told Business Insider in a statement.

Fetterman, 53, suffered a stroke in May, leaving him physically absent from the campaign trail until two weeks ago. He later admitted that he didn’t see his doctor for five years, stopped taking his medications, and announced that he had a previously undisclosed heart condition that prompted doctors to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator.

“I had a stroke. I survived it. I’m truly so grateful to still be here today,” Fetterman said in a statement released Tuesday night. “I know politics can be nasty, but even then, I could never imagine ridiculing someone for their health challenges.”

The comment comes after a week of Oz, 62, defending himself against accusations that he’s out of touch with everyday Pennsylvanians, fueled by online comments — and trolling from Fetterman — when an old campaign video resurfaced.

The clip shows Oz shopping for crudité — picking up broccoli, asparagus, carrots, salsa, and guacamole — in a grocery store, which he misnamed, and blaming President Joe Biden for inflation.

“Twenty dollars for crudité, and this doesn’t include the tequila,” Oz said in the video. “I mean, that’s outrageous. And we got Joe Biden to thank for this.”

Fetterman seized the opportunity to troll Oz, tweeting: “In PA, we call this a veggie tray.” His campaign later said the crudité video helped them raise more than $500,000 in 24 hours.

Earlier this week, Samuel Chen, an Allentown-based political strategist, characterized some of Oz’s campaign strategies as “classless,” citing statements where he accused Fetterman of hiding from voters after being sidelined from the campaign trail to recover from the stroke.

“This is somebody who suffered a major health issue,” Chen told the Capital-Star. “I think [the Oz campaign] has lost a bit of their firepower because they’ve gone after him as hard and classless as they have.”

Christopher Borick, a political science professor at Muhlenberg College, said on Tuesday that Oz should avoid coming off as “cold-hearted,” especially when commenting on Fetterman’s health.

When Fetterman returned to the campaign trail, Oz immediately challenged him to a debate. And his campaign has continued to tout that Oz has agreed to five invitations ahead of the Nov. 8 election.

Rebecca Katz, a senior advisor for the Fetterman campaign, said the Democratic nominee is up for a debate — just not on Oz’s terms. The campaign has dismissed Oz’s push for a debate as “an obvious and pathetic attempt to change the subject during yet another bad week.”

“One candidate had a stroke three months ago, and the other is a professional television personality, so our eyes are wide open about whose strengths this plays to,” Katz said in a written statement. 

On Tuesday, hours after Oz’s statement to Business Insider, Fetterman fired back with a letter signed by Pennsylvania doctors calling out Oz for promoting bogus and occasionally dangerous medical treatments.

“As a TV celebrity doctor, Mehmet Oz has displayed a shameful disregard for medical science and the well-being of his audience while he enriched himself at the expense of our patients,” the letter, signed by more than 100 people, states. “As physicians, we take seriously our responsibility for the health and well-being of our patients.”

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Marley Parish
Marley Parish

A Pennsylvania native, Marley Parish covers the Senate for the Capital-Star. She previously reported on government, education and community issues for the Centre Daily Times and has a background in writing, editing and design. A graduate of Allegheny College, Marley served as editor of the campus newspaper, where she also covered everything from student government to college sports.

MORE FROM AUTHOR