When the leading Republican candidates for Senate in Pennsylvania — the Trump-endorsed celebrity surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz and David McCormick, a former hedge fund executive — shared a debate stage for the first time on Monday night, they faced sharp attacks not only from each other but also from three other candidates vying to chip away at their polling lead.
With few substantive policy disagreements among the five candidates, attacks instead addressed how long each had lived in Pennsylvania (for Dr. Oz and Mr. McCormick, not much, recently); past commitments to other countries; and Dr. Oz’s statements during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic encouraging people to wear masks — now a verboten position among the Republican faithful.
Dr. Oz rarely failed to remind viewers that he had won an endorsement from former President Donald J. Trump, a victory he used to proclaim himself the true “America First” candidate in the race. His rivals disputed the designation.
“The reason Mehmet keeps talking about President Trump’s endorsement is because he can’t run on his own positions and his own record,” Mr. McCormick said. “The problem, doctor, is there’s no miracle cure for flip-flopping, and Pennsylvanians are seeing right through your phoniness and that’s what you’re dealing with and that’s why you’re not taking off in the polls.”
The latest public polls of the race, when taken together, show Dr. Oz and Mr. McCormick locked in a near tie for the lead ahead of the May 17 primary, a fact that was close to the minds of their rivals Monday.
One area where Oz and McCormick were in agreement was on the issue of the 2020 presidential election, which Trump has baselessly claimed was stolen from him in Pennsylvania. When asked if it was time to move on, both said no, with Oz saying, “I have discussed it with President Trump and we cannot move on. … We have to be serious about what happened in 2020, and we won’t be able to address that until we can really look under the hood.”
Another area of overlap was abortion, access to which has been severely restricted across the country by Republican-backed laws. Both Oz and McCormick said exceptions should be made when the life of the mother is in danger, but when asked directly, neither said that similar allowances should be made if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
Both Oz, who moved from New Jersey to run for the seat, and McCormick, who moved from Connecticut, have been criticized for not being true Pennsylvanians. The Republican field also includes Carla Sands, a former Trump-appointed ambassador to Denmark, who moved from California to enter the race.
The candidates’ loyalty to Trump was tested throughout the night. Moderators asked whether it was time for the GOP to move forward as Trump continues to talk about the 2020 election.
Oz said he had discussed the 2020 election with Trump and that “we cannot move on.” McCormick said it was a “tragedy” that most Republican voters in Pennsylvania didn’t believe in the integrity of the election.
Sands directed viewers to a film by far-right personality Dinesh D’Souza propping up election conspiracies. Barnette said the Republican Party should “absolutely not” move past the 2020 election.
Only Jeff Bartos, a real estate developer, zeroed in on the 2022 midterms in his answer.
“Unfortunately, Joe Biden’s the president,” he said, arguing that “Americans are going to stand up with one loud voice” in November and “we are going to have historic wins.”
His public appearances becoming more frequent as the 2022 midterm elections approach, former President Donald Trump will hold a rally in Greensburg on May 6 to boost Dr. Mehmet Oz’s run for U.S. Senate.
Mr. Trump, who endorsed Mr. Oz earlier this month, will deliver remarks in support of the celebrity doctor at 8 p.m. at the Westmoreland Fairgrounds as part of his “Save America Rally.”
In recent weeks, these rallies have become a soundboard for the former president to discuss current events, President Joe Biden’s administration and his preferred candidates for offices across the country.
Several Republican candidates in both the Senate and Pennsylvania governor’s races have courted Mr. Trump’s support as the GOP continues to believe in the former president’s popularity among the party’s base.
Dr. Calvin Clements, a retired veterinarian from Palmyra, on Monday filed a motion in U.S. Middle District Court to intervene in the suit brought by Jeffrey D. Hill of Muncy.
Clements’ filing contends conservative state Sen. Doug Mastriano is disqualified from seeking public office because of his efforts to overthrow the election of President Joe Biden.
Mastriano’s spreading of conspiracy theories about the conduct of the 2020 presidential election and his conduct during and after the insurrection meet the state’s definition of insurrection, he claims.
Clements, who is running in the district made up of Lebanon, northern Lancaster and parts of Berks County, says he is prepared to file his own complaint if denied permission to join Hill’s suit.
The two contend the 14th Amendment disqualifies Mastriano from being on the ballot because his alleged participation in an insurrection.
Clements’ complaint accuses Mastriano of lying when he claimed he did not cross police lines on Jan. 6.
While he did not enter the Capitol, his false statements about not crossing police lines do not shield him from removal from the ballot, he charges.
Just a friendly reminder of what we are up against.
Right now, Russia is attempting to advance toward:
- Kryvyi Rih
- South, east, west, and northwest of Izyum (seriously)
- Pushing out from Donetsk
Russian forces have adopted a sounder pattern of operational movement in eastern Ukraine, at least along the line from Izyum to Rubizhne. Russian troops are pushing down multiple roughly parallel roads within supporting distance of one another, allowing them to bring more combat power to bear than their previous practice had supported.
The objective of the Russian advance toward Barvinkove is not immediately obvious, as it leads Russian troops further away from their comrades pushing on Slovyansk. The road continues southeast from Barvinkove to the Donetsk Oblast boundary, however, and it is possible that Russian forces from the Izyum axis are meant to take up positions along much of the boundary to support claims that Russia has “secured the borders of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts” even if the Russians have not actually secured the entire oblast itself.