Celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz just upped the ante in Pennsylvania's Senate race with a bizarre ad that mocks his opponent's pro-cannabis platform.
The Republican candidate, most popularly known as Dr. Oz, is challenging John Fetterman, an outspoken cannabis advocate who is currently serving as Pennsylvania's Lt. Governor. The doctor's new ad purports to show “What's inside Fetterman's head,” namely, some loose screws, a bong, and a “crazy” and “ridiculous” political agenda.
The bong is a clear reference to Fetterman's longstanding support of drug reform, which Republicans are desperately trying to use against him. The Lt. Gov. has consistently encouraged local lawmakers to legalize adult-use weed in his home state, and even hung a cannabis flag in his office. GOP pundits have also misrepresented Fetterman's support of overall drug decriminalization and safe injection sites, claiming that the candidate actually wants to “legalize heroin.”
Oz's ad is especially ironic considering the fact that the TV doctor used to personally endorse cannabis reform before he became a political candidate. In a FOX News interview from only two years ago, Oz called out the “hypocrisy around medical marijuana,” which he claimed was “one of the most underused tools in America.”
But now that he's running as a Republican, Oz is fully embracing standard GOP tactics. In a campaign interview from this spring, the candidate suggested that legal weed would make Pennsylvanians too lazy to work. The doctor's new ad doubles down on the anti-pot rhetoric in an effort to scare swing voters away from Fetterman's liberal drug policies.
In a sign of the times, the two candidates have decided to take their debate to Twitter, where Dr. Oz has branded his opponent “the most radical candidate in the country.” Commenters have argued that this branding actually makes Fetterman seem like an even better choice for the Senate. "It's a novel approach, but I'm not sure that Dr. Oz is going to win by airing commercials that make John Fetterman look awesome," journalist Jordan Zakarin tweeted.
Twitter users have also mocked the new campaign video, calling it “creepy” and “desperate,” according to Newsweek. "This looks and sounds like a kid's cereal commercial, and has about as much reality," one poster wrote. "This is so bizarre and creepy,” another quipped. “Is Dr. Oz from the Wizard of Oz?"
Recent polls confirm that the new campaign strategy is indeed an act of desperation. Support for Fetterman peaked at 49% last week, substantially higher than the 38% who said they supported Oz. Fetterman's campaign also regularly points out that Oz lived in New Jersey for over 30 years and still maintains a 9,000-square-foot mansion there, in addition to his other 9 houses. Fetterman, on the other hand, was born in Pennsylvania and remains a resident of his home state.