ICYMI: Oz Discusses Policies During Pa. Chamber Dinner While Fetterman Sits Out

ICYMI: Oz Discusses Policies During Pa. Chamber Dinner While Fetterman Sits Out

By: Marley Parish ǀ Pennsylvania Capital-Star

Pennsylvania’s Republican U.S. Senate nominee Mehmet Oz discussed his political plans during an annual dinner on Monday as Democratic nominee John Fetterman sat out, leaving room for the celebrity doctor to continue “soft on crime” accusations against his opponent.

Crime and community safety

Oz has repeatedly accused Fetterman, who chairs the state Board of Pardons, of wanting to release as many people with criminal convictions as possible and bragging about granting more pardons “than any administration in history” as Pennsylvania experiences a rise in crime rates. The Oz campaign also launched an online campaign — “Inmates for Fetterman” — to highlight individuals with murder convictions whose release Fetterman advocated for.

When asked on Monday what Oz would ask Fetterman if he showed up to the forum, he replied: “Why does he seem to care more about the criminals than the innocent who are hurt?”

The Capital-Star asked the Oz campaign in September about his specific plan to address crime and ensure community safety.

In an email, spokesperson Brittany Yannick — who did not address specific policies supported by Oz — cited endorsements from the Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Police and the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police.

She said that Oz “will ensure that our police officers have the resources they need to protect the commonwealth, that our brave first responders are respected and properly trained, and that our streets and neighborhoods are safe for everyone to enjoy.” 

Yannick added that Oz will “crack down on cartels and fund drug rehab centers.” On his campaign website, Oz said he opposes “anti-law” proposals such as “cashless bail.”

He also made the opioid epidemic a core part of his answers to questions, highlighting a recent visit to Philadelphia to discuss the issue and how to address it with community leaders.

“What they really need is a safe community. That’s not fraught with drugs on every street corner and some economic viability,” Oz said of Philadelphia on Monday.

Fetterman, a vocal advocate for legalizing adult-use cannabis, went further in 2015 when he told The Nation he is “for decriminalizing across the board,” saying he sees it “as a public health issue, not a criminal issue.”

Last month, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Fetterman shifted his stance on decriminalization, quoting Joe Calvello, a campaign spokesperson, saying the Democratic nominee “does not support decriminalizing all drugs — including heroin, methamphetamines, and other hard drugs.”

The Oz campaign, which accused Fetterman of “backpedaling” on drug decriminalization, has highlighted the 2015 interview, accusing Fetterman of wanting to decriminalize all drugs.

Energy, environment, and the economy

Oz, who supports fracking and suggested putting a liquid natural gas facility in southeastern Pennsylvania, called the Green New Deal a “dishonest narrative,” saying its timeline is unrealistic.

“It would create immense opportunity — tens of thousands of trade jobs, billions of revenue that could be taxed,” Oz said of natural gas investments, specifically putting a facility in the southeastern part of the state. “It would help put money in people’s pockets that might help bring together fractured communities.”

He added: “These are issues that not just help us with inflation. They help us with national security, build local communities and jobs, and it’s hurting us to not do it.”

Oz also promoted exporting Pennsylvania’s natural gas resources overseas to fuel sustainability efforts such as electric vehicles and solar panels.

Working across the aisle

If elected to the U.S. Senate, Oz will serve alongside Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey.

Oz said he expects to collaborate with Casey on building new and improving existing infrastructure in Pennsylvania. Oz added that he and Casey both support wanting to protect same-sex marriage.

“There are places where we would get along, and then, places we’re gonna differ,” Oz said. “But at least, we ought to be able to knock heads on topics and find a middle ground if it exists. And if it doesn’t, then we’ll go our separate ways.”

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