Latrobe Bulletin – August 23, 2022
By: Joe Wells
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz and his wife Lisa took a stroll through the Westmoreland Fair Monday afternoon to talk with voters about their concerns with where the country is heading going into the November election.
Oz spent a little more than an hour talking with vendors and visitors before meeting briefly with local Republican committee members and supporters, fielding questions on where he stands on a variety of issues from inflation’s effect on the cost of living to crime and border security.
One woman Oz spoke with told the candidate how rising food prices have forced her to cut back on what meat she buys at the grocery store.
“I have three kids and it costs so much more to feed a family and put gas in the car,” Pam Polinski of New Stanton said.
She told Oz her family is eating a lot less chicken and having to eat more ground beef because the price of chicken has gone up with its availability shrinking at her local grocery store at times.
Oz said he has heard many families who have changed their spending habits at the store and fuel pumps over the past few months.
“I hear it all the time, folks don’t fill up their tanks, they change what they’re buying in grocery stores, they put things back on the shelf,” Oz said.
Oz also met with a few children who were competing in 4-H contests at the fair including Penny, 5, and Maggie Kaufman, 1, who took the candidate to see the two goats they were showing this year.
The kids’ mother, Angie of Delmont, said she tries to stay away from politics because of the controversy of the issues involved but was surprised her typically timid 5-year-old was so outspoken with the celebrity heart surgeon.
“Politics makes me uncomfortable,” Angie said.
Between taking care of her children and sharing TV time with them, Angie said she hasn’t had a lot of time to follow the Senate race or much of the news. Still, Angie said she appreciated Oz taking the time to talk about goats with her daughters.
Oz said there needs to be a continued investment in education and jobs in Pennsylvania so that the kids who are now participating in these competitions will want to stay in the state because they can get a good job to support their families.
“I want to make this commonwealth a wealthy place so our young people grow up, compete in the 4-H competitions,” Oz said. “But then they stay here because they got well-paying jobs, they learn trades and skills that help them be whatever they’re interested in being.”
One of the veterans Oz spoke with, Korean War veteran Edward Wagner of Greensburg, said if Oz is elected, he wants to see him do more for veterans, especially Korean War veterans like himself.
“They said we were the forgotten war,” the 92-year-old former Army infantryman said. “It sure feels like it.”
Oz told Wagner he was dedicated to veteran issues and that the Korean War was not forgotten by him because Turkey and the United States were allies who fought on the peninsula together. Turkey was one of 22 countries to send troops to the war. The country sent roughly 15,000 soldiers during the war’s course.
Wagner said many veterans from all of America’s wars still don’t know about all the benefits they are entitled to after their service. It was his son, who was a Marine during the Gulf War, who helped him finally get the benefits he earned decades later.
Whoever ends up in the Senate needs to make sure all veterans are getting the care they need instead of “learning the hard way” like he did, Wagner said.
Before talking with supporters, Oz joined Jeannette native Matt Leone of Smoke Game Strong at a table to try some of Matt’s barbecue. Oz talked with Matt about his journey from Jeannette to Orange County to Austin, Texas, where he currently resides.
Matt said he wanted to leave the “rat-race” of California and started the barbecue brand with friends.
Standing on a folding chair to be seen and heard by supporters and campaign workers before leaving, Oz said the difference between him and his opponent, Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, is his belief in the people to fix America’s problems, not big government.
“I believe in you,” Oz told the crowd.
Oz continued with his claim Fetterman is the “most radical” candidate in all of the Senate races and that the “radical left” is a problem for America’s success.
“The Democratic Party, the far-left party, because it’s not just Democrats, … has no agenda for prosperity, they’re not taking us anywhere,” Oz said.
Oz touted his Pennsylvania roots and said his values are Pennsylvania’s values, like the American Dream which brought his family to the country, he said. Oz added that those values helped with his success which is what he wants for all Pennsylvanians.
State Sen. Kim Ward (R-39th Westmoreland County), said those values are why Oz should be elected to the U.S. Senate.
“I think it’s great that he’s here and we need somebody in (Washington,) D.C. that represents the values of Pennsylvanians when it comes to energy and the border,” Ward said.
Oz said he will take those values to the Senate if elected and be a reminder of the American Dream.
“I think a lot of young people have forgotten the sharpness, the brilliance of the American Dream,” Oz said.