Mehmet Oz responds to crudités shopping video

Julian Routh
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz greets supporters after the primary race resulted in an automatic re-count due to close results on May 17, 2022, in Newtown, Pennsylvania. (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images/TNS)

PITTSBURGH — No one expected the discourse in one of the country's most important U.S. Senate races to be hijacked by talk of crudités and grocery stores, but that's the reality of a race between a self-proclaimed internet troll and a longtime TV celebrity.

Republican Mehmet Oz, facing a barrage of playful scrutiny over a viral clip of his grocery store pursuits to assemble crudités for his wife, finally got the chance to respond Wednesday when a host on the conservative site Newsmax asked about it — and whether he's "relatable to the everyday hardworking American there in Pennsylvania."

In response, Oz said his whole life, he's rolled up his sleeves, saved lives as a cardiothoracic surgeon and tried to help people however he could. He said the crudités video was meant to poke at how "ridiculous it is that you can't even put vegetables on a plate," referring to the rising costs of food and high inflation.

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"We'll do whatever we need to do to make sure the people of Pennsylvania respect what we're about, and we're going to work as hard as we can to fix their problems," Oz said. "It's what I've done my whole life. It's what I'll continue to do."

His Democratic opponent, Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, capitalized on the video — which was originally posted in April but that resurfaced this week and went viral — by fitting it into his broader argument that Oz is an out-of-touch multimillionaire who doesn’t understand the plight of regular Pennsylvanians.

"In PA we call this a ... veggie tray," Fetterman wrote in his viral tweet Monday morning.

In the video, Oz walks through the produce section of a grocery store, grabs items for his crudités and lambastes the costs of the individual vegetables. He calls the store "Wegners," which appears to be a combination of the stores Wegmans and Redner's.

Asked Wednesday by the Newsmax host how he'd explain the grocery store name slip-up, Oz said: "I was exhausted. When you're campaigning 18 hours a day ... I've got my kids' names wrong as well. I don't think that's a measure of someone's ability to lead the commonwealth."

Oz said that at the end of the day, Pennsylvanians will go to the polls in November and ask themselves, "Are we happy with where the country is headed?" The answer will be no, he said, and they'll gravitate toward his campaign.

Meanwhile, Fetterman's campaign said it raised more than $500,000 from Monday to Tuesday off the viral Wegners clip, including from a new sticker that reads, "Wegners: Let them eat Crudité."

"Our supporters — and everyone, really, from a look at the past few days — love to dunk on Dr. Oz," Fetterman campaign manager Brendan McPhillips said in a statement.