Senate candidate Mehmet Oz focuses on China, education at York County event

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz spent much of Wednesday in York County, fielding questions at a Rotary Club event before heading to a Fox News town hall at the Valencia Ballroom.

The TV personality, known for "The Dr. Oz Show," struggled in the polls against Democratic nominee John Fetterman but has made something of a comeback in recent weeks. Several recent polls showed Fetterman with a slim, single-digit lead in the race for the retiring incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey's seat.

On Wednesday, much of Oz's comments centered on global politics — and America's place within that sphere.

"The land of opportunity would provide as long as you work hard, offer a little innovation, a little grit, a little spunk," Oz said in his opening remarks. "I have felt over the past few years that our belief in this country as a land of plenty and opportunity is not as widely appreciated as it had been."

Both Fetterman and Oz have made recent campaign stops in York County. The area is traditionally a Republican stronghold, but Fetterman has local roots: He grew up in Springettsbury Township before moving to Braddock in the Pittsburgh suburbs and eventually becoming lieutenant governor.

Oz's first appearance, moderated by former Rotary Club president David Meckley, came at the Country Club of York. He discussed China, which he described as America's greatest competitor, at length, while also touching upon the economy, crime and immigration.

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Pennsylvania, Oz said, has the most important resource: energy.

"If you really want to be a green energy country, you have to be able to produce the things that lead to that," he said. "You can't just put up your hands and say electric vehicles; you have to do more than that."

When asked about foreign policy, Oz said the situation in Ukraine is a litmus test for China and Taiwan. He said both Taiwan and Ukraine should be armed to defend themselves.

"China wants us to trip and fall. It's better for them if we do," Oz said. "Preventing China from invading Taiwan is an important part of that."

Dr. Mehmet Oz following a stop at a Rotary Club meeting at Country Club of York in Spring Garden Township, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022. Dawn J. Sagert/The York Dispatch

Citing former President Ronald Reagan's "city on the hill" analogy, Oz said the U.S. serves as a barometer for the rest of the world.

"What we do in the United States signals how the rest of the world can act," he said.

Oz also said education would be the foundation of his time in Washington if elected, particularly noting his support of providing taxpayer dollars to help send students to private and Christian schools.

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Oz has received intense criticism for his promotion of miracle cures and magic beans on "The Dr. Oz Show." In addition, he's received criticism for running for office in Pennsylvania despite having lived most of his life in California and New Jersey, which he addressed in his appearance.

"I learned my outlook on life in Pennsylvania," he said. "We spent a lot of time in Pennsylvania; a couple of my daughters were born here. We have always treasured that this is the state that we would end our lives in."

Dr. Mehmet Oz, right, listens before answering a question asked by former Rotary Club president Dave Meckley while about 200 rotarian members look on during a Rotary Club meeting at Country Club of York in Spring Garden Township, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022. Dawn J. Sagert/The York Dispatch

Oz sought to counter the criticism by saying that he believed voters were more interested in his policy positions than his home address.

Oz was also expected to appear at a taping of a Fox News town hall with TV personality Sean Hannity at the Valencia Ballroom in York City. The event ran at 9 p.m. on the network.

Fetterman and Oz are set to debate each other Oct. 25 in a televised event at 8 p.m. that will be carried on local TV stations, including ABC-27 and WTAJ.

 — Reach Matt Enright via email at menright@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright. 

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