First, let me start by noting that President Trump doesn’t need me – or anyone else to defend his own personal pick in an election – at the end of the day, it is President Trump’s choice and no one else’s.
Second, let me make it clear that I am not on the payroll of any candidate in the Pennsylvania Senate race, nor am I affiliate with any super PAC or other outside interest group paying me for my opinion in this race. Unlike so many others who have lit themselves on fire on social media and on Fox News I have absolutely no financial stake in the outcome of this race.
By no means is all of the criticism of Dr. Oz simply cynical pay for play politics, much of it is legitimate and there are lots of people who I respect deeply who will disagree with me over this column and that’s fine. Unlike in the Democrat party we conservatives actually encourage debate and dissent – it’s part of what makes our movement strong.
Like many, I started this election cycle a skeptic of the candidacy of Dr. Mehmet Oz (R-PA). As badly as I want to keep this seat in Republican hands, the idea of a squishy Pat Toomey being replaced by an even squishier Republican made me incredibly uneasy.
As the race wore on, however, and the more and more I spoke to friends and colleagues in Pennsylvania, the more and more impressed I became with Dr. Oz. I know a ton of very hardcore pro-Trump Republicans who were won over by Dr. Oz – and every single person I spoke to who had met Oz came away impressed with him.
The more I heard, the more I saw, the more I became convinced that Dr. Oz would be a consistent voice for America First policies and then President Trump himself weighed in and enthusiastically endorsed Dr. Oz for Senate.
The blow back to President Trump’s endorsement was immediate – some of it was legitimate concern, some of it was by people paid to shill for other candidates and some of it was just howling for attention on social media. What struck me the most, however, was exactly what Dr. Oz was being criticized for, indeed the “conservative” criticism of Dr. Oz’s candidacy sounded an awful lot like the “conservative” criticism of President Trump’s candidacy in 2015 and 2016.
The criticism of Oz’s candidacy has been almost 100% focused on whether or not Oz is sufficiently conservative on abortion, on guns and on cultural issues in general. Critics point to things Dr. Oz said during the long run of his show and on segments his show ran. This criticism is legitimate, but it is worth pointing out that this is the exactly same criticism that was levied at candidate Trump in 2015.
They said Trump the private citizen and media figure had been insufficiently pro-life, had been insufficiently pro-2nd amendment and they questioned how a Manhattan billionaire could ever be a real fighter when it comes to fighting the critical culture wars.
Trump the candidate, like Oz the candidate, sounded very different than Trump the private citizen, businessman and pop culture icon. Trump promised to be 100% pro-life, Trump promised to fight for our 2nd amendment rights and Trump promised to be a warrior when it came to fighting the excesses of the progressive left when it came to our culture.
How did that turn out? Well it turned out that Trump the pop culture icon and Trump the political leader were two very different people. Not only did Trump govern as a pro-life President, Trump was arguably the most pro-life president of my lifetime. Not only did Trump run promising to protect our 2nd Amendment rights, Trump was willing to stand up for the 2nd amendment in some of the most difficult political moments for gun rights advocates. Not only was Trump a warrior in the culture wars – Trump became the single most important, most powerful and most committed voice to preserving traditional American culture and values.
Everything they said about Trump had been wrong – and terribly wrong at that.
I suspect that President Trump sees more than just a little bit of himself and his political journey when it comes to Dr. Oz and his run for Senate.
Like Trump, Dr. Oz has promised to be a pro-life Senator, promised to protect our 2nd Amendment rights and promised to be a leader in the fight to protect individuals and families from the excesses of the radical woke left.
Like Trump, Dr. Oz is an outsider and a businessman. Oz is someone who hasn’t been a part of our desperately broken political system, he hasn’t spent decades in government trading influence and favors for dollars.
Like Trump, Dr. Oz isn’t the favored candidate of the establishment and like Trump, Dr. Oz understands the importance of the media, of television and of pop culture.
The conservative establishment was desperately wrong about Trump and it’s clear that President Trump himself believes they are very wrong about Dr. Oz.
Finally – and maybe most importantly – this race is a binary choice. While there are other candidates on the ballot, every single opinion poll makes it clear that this is a 2-man race between Dr. Oz and David McCormick.
McCormick is no America First populist, McCormick is a hedge fund millionaire who made his money helping to hollow out the American middle class and ship jobs overseas. McCormick, a Bush era Republican, who was no friend to President Trump in the past, is hardly the type of candidate who can credibly claim that he is somehow more America First than Trump’s own endorsed candidate Dr. Oz.
At the end of the day, I will enthusiastically support whoever wins the GOP nomination for Senate in Pennsylvania – as I hope ALL conservatives will – but when it comes to which candidate I think will best fight for President Trump’s policies in Washington, DC, I trust President Trump himself.