Pennsylvania Senate nominee Mehmet Oz reportedly downplayed associations with former President Donald Trump and fellow Republican Doug Mastriano, who is running for governor in the state, according to a former Columbia University Medical Center colleague.
Oz, a first-time candidate for office, was a full professor of surgery at Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons from 2001 to 2018, when he became professor emeritus. Democrats have alleged that Oz supervised abusive animal experimentation during his time at Columbia University, a charge the Republican and his campaign deny, according to Politico. Oz reportedly contacted another Columbia doctor about the allegations, to whom he downplayed his support for Trump and Mastriano.
“He said to me, Trump isn’t the leader of the party,” Dr. Eric Rose, surgeon-in-chief at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, told The Washington Post. “He told me that Mitch McConnell is the leader of the Republican Party.”
Oz further reportedly stated that Mastriano, who is polling eight points behind Democrat Josh Shapiro, “won’t win” Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial contest, according to Rose. Rose was head of cardiac surgery at Columbia in 2003, and Oz’s direct superior, the outlet reported.
A former medical colleague of Dr. Oz’s claims that Oz said McConnell is the head of the Republican Party not Trump, and that Oz said Mastriano will lose. https://t.co/OeYCHCTmMk pic.twitter.com/9XM8otSJ5J
— Daniel Marans (@danielmarans) November 1, 2022
Oz spokesman Barney Keller denied that Oz made the statements to Rose, although his campaign acknowledged to The Washington Post that he did contact his former colleague.
“Doctor Oz never said any of those things, and it’s irresponsible and frankly pathetic that The Washington Post falsely attributes them to him,” Keller said, according to the outlet. (RELATED: Can Dr. Oz Turn His Campaign Around?)
Trump endorsed Oz during Pennsylvania’s Senate primary, helping the candidate break through a crowded field. Since then, however, Oz has sought to emphasize his moderate policy views. He signed a letter in support of legal gay marriage, and has opposed South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s proposed 15-week abortion ban. Several recent polls have shown Oz and Fetterman running within the margin of error.
Unlike other Republican Senate candidates like Don Bolduc in New Hampshire and Kelly Tshibaka in Alaska, Oz has suggested he will support McConnell to remain Republican leader in the upper chamber. The Senate Leadership Fund, a McConnell-aligned Super PAC, has poured millions into Oz’s race even as it has cut spending in Arizona and declined to spend in Colorado.