Over the weekend, former President Trump endorsed Mehmet Oz—better known to Americans as Dr. Oz—in the GOP Senate primary in Pennsylvania. But this endorsement is shaping up to be a relatively controversial one among Trump supporters, many of whom favored a rival candidate named David McCormick. A look at coverage:
- Criticism: A common refrain among critics is that Oz is not sufficiently conservative and has not been a reliable supporter of the MAGA movement. The Washington Examiner rounds up sentiment in Pennsylvania itself. “President Trump was very out of sync in picking Oz," says Dave Ball, GOP chairman in Washington County. "I think that President Trump very, very seldom does anything that's not thought out and doesn't have a very reasoned and logical basis, but, for whatever reason, in this particular instance, he chose to ignore all of that."
- A warning: "This endorsement could divide MAGA in the only way that matters: (Trump) could lose America First conservatives over it," writes Joel Pollak of Breitbart. Steve Bannon also hates it. Politico quotes him in a recent podcast: "How does Dr. Oz, probably the most anti-MAGA guy, and you got Fox non-stop pimping this guy out and Newsmax pimping this guy out, and that’s what it is—how does Dr. Oz, from New Jersey ... become a factor in a Senate race in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania?” Roger Stone also questioned the pick on Telegram, posting a photo of Oz on his former TV show with Michelle Obama, per the Daily Beast. (Bannon's Fox reference is likely to Sean Hannity, a big Oz backer.)
- Bad for Trump? At the Daily Beast, Matt Lewis is struck by the widespread criticism among Trump supporters, even though most seem to be blaming advisers rather than Trump himself. The former president is famously impervious to criticism, of course, but Lewis wonders if this batch signals a shift. As "people on the right begin to normalize criticizing Trump (albeit, couched in rhetoric blaming others), another possibility opens up: Moving on from Trump."
- Ditto: Daniel Strauss at the New Republic assesses the endorsement as well as others by Trump in this cycle. "The larger implication of this is that Donald Trump may very well be in danger of losing some of the mojo he’s had to keep an iron grip on the Republican Party since he ran for president and won," he writes. McCormick, for example, remains ahead in the polls for now and could well win the primary. If so, "it will call into question whether inhabiting Trump’s universe and trying to get close to him is worth it at all. The more that’s put into question, the more it’s a disaster for Trump."
- Taking advantage: Despite all the criticism above, a recent Emerson College poll suggested that 60% of primary voters in Pennsylvania would back a candidate who had Trump's blessing. The issue is that the former president no longer has the voice he once had given that he's barred from Twitter and Facebook. Solution? Oz plans a major TV advertising push, his biggest to date, to make sure Pennsylvanians know Trump has endorsed him, reports NBC News.
- So why Oz? McCormick is a solid conservative candidate and his wife, Dina, served in the Trump administration. So why pick Oz? Chris Cillizza of CNN says the clincher was the heart surgeon's TV fame. "For Trump the world is split between those who can do things for him and those who can't," he writes. "Oz, because he was on TV, can win—and by winning that makes Donald Trump look good. So, voila, Trump endorses Oz."
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