(NEW YORK) — With just a little over a month before the Nov. 8 elections, Dr. Mehmet Oz tells ABC News that he is gearing up for a tight campaign schedule as he tries to convince Pennsylvania voters that he’s the best choice for their U.S. Senator.
Oz laid out more specifics of his agenda and responded to criticism by his opponent, Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, in a wide-ranging interview and run with ABC News’ Linsey Davis.
Oz, a former heart surgeon turned TV talk show host, said he decided to run for office because of the legacy he has as a first-generation American. The GOP candidate said that his father, who immigrated to the U.S. from Turkey, instilled in him pride in his adopted land and encouraged him to work hard.
“My life is a living testimony to the American dream,” he told Davis. “I want everyone to have that, and I don’t want that getting squandered away.”
Oz’s residency has come into question from Fetterman and other opponents who have noted that Oz moved to Pennsylvania in 2020 after residing in New Jersey. Fetterman has frequently brought up this point in social media posts.
Oz pushed back against the criticism, calling the residency complaints a “preposterous issue.”
“I had two kids in Pennsylvania, married my wife 37 years ago in the house we live in now, which was the best decision I made in my life, and we moved back couple of years ago,” he said.
“It’s a deeper reality that, in Pennsylvania, we don’t care where you’re from. We care what you stand for,” Oz added.
Oz added that he was a Philadelphia Eagles fan.
The Republican candidate said his first priority as a senator would be health care. Oz said every American should have access to health care but added, “we’ve got to deal with the cost issues as well.”
When asked if he supported U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s bill to ban abortion nationwide, Oz, who has supported banning abortions with exceptions for lifesaving instances, didn’t directly answer but reiterated his stance that the issue should be left up to the states.
“I don’t think the federal government should play a role in telling states how to make decisions around some of these issues, especially sensitive ones like those involving the pro-life movement,” he said.
Health has come up in the campaign after Fetterman suffered a stroke in May.
Last month, Oz distanced himself from a comment made by one of his campaign staffers who was quoted saying that if Fetterman “had ever eaten a vegetable in his life, then maybe he wouldn’t have had a major stroke and wouldn’t be in the position of having to lie about it constantly.”
Oz reiterated that he has empathy for Fetterman and his recovery.
“It’s an area that I specialize in medicine, recovering from a stroke,” he said. “All of these issues are challenges, especially if you’re in the political arena, which is physically demanding, and you’ve got to articulate your thoughts on this campaign.”
Oz, however, criticized his opponent for not having more facetime during the campaign. Fetterman has kept most of his campaigning online and with few public appearances since the stroke.
There is only one debate scheduled between the candidates on Oct. 25.
“Focus on the voters,” Oz said. “They have a right to hear my opponent articulate and defend his policies.”
Oz said he is focused on winning over all voters — Republicans, Democrats and Independents. However, he has faced criticism for his ties to the far-right, but also from the far-right for not being conservative enough.
Oz was endorsed by Former President Donald Trump, but he has contended he wants to be a leader for all.
“I think I’m a moderate leader, but not passive. I feel very strongly about the positions I have,” he said.
“Politics is a game of addition and multiplication, not division. I have lots of people endorsing me. Some of those people don’t like President Trump. Many do. But I want everybody endorsing me,” he added.
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