Former President Donald Trump called on his supporters to vote for Mehmet Oz in the upcoming Republican primary to replace the retiring Senator Pat Toomey.
Mehmet Oz, who is best known as Dr. Oz – the host of a long-running daytime television program about medical matters and health issues, has only recently entered the political arena and has immediately drawn criticism from many Republican and non-Republican circles for his past political views and his association with the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Some began to express concern that if elected, Oz would become “Erdogan’s man” in the Upper House of the US Congress.
“Oz’s links to Turkey’s authoritarian Justice and Development Party (AKP) extend to foreign agents and proxies accused of operating a secret lobby in the U.S. and spying on American citizens. These associations raise urgent questions about the Senate candidate’s loyalty to an illiberal, often antagonistic foreign government that finds itself increasingly at odds with American interests” writes Brittany Bernstein in the conservative magazine National Review.
Another concern with Dr. Oz’s candidacy is his refusal to relinquish his Turkish citizenship. Although the US Constitution does not prohibit a dual citizen from being elected to the Senate, Oz’s ties to the Turkish ruling party and its leader, Erdogan, who sets up a spy network in the United States to crack down on his political opponents and instructs his bodyguards to attack peaceful protesters who were gathered in front of the Turkish embassy in Washington DC, Turkish citizenship becomes an important and worrisome matter. There are other scandals connected with Dr. Oz’s name. He has been criticized by physicians, government officials, medical and popular publications, including the British Medical Journal, Popular Science, and The New Yorker, for endorsing unproven health products and giving non-scientific advice.
Despite all this, Trump has chosen to support Mehmet Oz, when there are other Republican candidates running, who are long-time members of the Republican Party and believers of the party’s stance on various issues. Dr. Oz is relative newcomer to the Republican side and in the past, has described himself as a “moderate Republican” who supports abortion rights. Therefore, the question arises as to why the former president’s preference is focused on Dr. Oz.
During Trump’s presidency, his close ties to Erdogan and the frequent telephone conversations between them were questioned by the American press. Many believed that the two Trump Towers in Istanbul, which generate one million dollars a year for the former president, may have played an important role in his pro-Turkish foreign policy. This latest move by Trump could also be a continuation of that dubious relationship and economic ties.
Mehmet Oz’s candidacy should be of great concern, not only to the voters of the state of Pennsylvania, but to all Americans regardless of their political affiliations. Sitting in the Senate chamber, Mehmet Oz will provide the Turkish dictator with new leverage to use against his internal adversaries and to continue his military interventions in other countries.