Donald Trump rallies for Oz, Mastriano in Pa. amid midterm worries

Trumop rally
While Trump’s endorsed picks won many Republican primaries this summer, many of the candidates are inexperienced and polarizing figures now struggling in their November races.

Larry Mitko voted for Donald Trump in 2016. But the Republican from Beaver County in western Pennsylvania says he has no plans to back his party’s nominee for Senate, Dr. Mehmet Oz — “no way, no how.”

Mitko doesn’t feel like he knows the celebrity heart surgeon, who only narrowly won his May primary with Trump’s backing. Instead, Mitko plans to vote for Oz’s Democratic rival, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a name he’s been familiar with since Fetterman’s days as mayor of nearby Braddock.

“Dr. Oz hasn’t showed me one thing to get me to vote for him,” he said. “I won’t vote for someone I don’t know.”

Mitko’s thinking underscores the political challenges facing Trump and the rest of the Republican Party as the former president heads to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on Saturday for his first rally of the general election season.

While Trump’s endorsed picks won many Republican primaries this summer, many of the candidates he backed were inexperienced and polarizing figures now struggling in their November races. That’s putting Senate control — once assumed to be a lock for Republicans — on the line.

Among those candidates are Oz in Pennsylvania, author JD Vance in Ohio, venture capitalist Blake Masters in Arizona and former football star Herschel Walker in Georgia.

“Republicans have now nominated a number of candidates who’ve never run for office before for very high-profile Senate races,” said veteran Republican pollster Whit Ayres. While he isn’t writing his party’s chances off just yet, he said, “It’s a much more difficult endeavor than a candidate who had won several difficult political races before.”

The stakes are particularly high for Trump as he lays the groundwork for an expected 2024 presidential run amid a series of escalating legal challenges, including the FBI’s recent seizure of classified documents from his Florida home. Investigators also continue to probe his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

This past week, President Joe Biden gave a prime-time speech in Philadelphia warning that Trump and other “MAGA” Republicans — the acronym for Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan — posed a threat to U.S. democracy. Biden has tried to frame the upcoming vote, as he did the 2020 election, as a battle for the “soul of the nation.” Biden’s Labor Day visit to Pittsburgh will be his third to the state within a week, a sign of Pennsylvania’s election-year importance.

While Republicans were once seen as having a good chance of gaining control of both chambers of Congress in November amid soaring inflation, high gas prices and Biden’s slumping approval ratings, Republicans have found themselves on defense since the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision protecting abortion rights.

Some candidates, like Doug Mastriano, the GOP’s hard-line nominee for governor in Pennsylvania, are sticking with their primary campaign playbooks, hoping they can win by turning out Trump’s loyal base even if they alienate more moderate voters.

Mastriano, who wants to outlaw abortion even when pregnancies are the result of rape or incest or endanger the life of the mother, played a leading role in Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election and was seen outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as pro-Trump rioters stormed the building.

But others have been trying to broaden their appeal, scrubbing from their websites references to anti-abortion messaging that is out of step with the political mainstream. Masters, for instance, removed language from a policy section of his website that labeled him “100% pro-life,” as well as language saying, “if we had had a free and fair election, President Trump would be sitting in the Oval Office today.” Others have played down Trump endorsements that were once featured prominently.

The shifting climate has prompted rounds of finger-pointing in the party, including from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who last month cited “candidate quality” as he lowered expectations that Republicans would recapture control of the Senate in November.

Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who leads the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said those who complain about the party’s nominees have “contempt” for the voters who chose them.

“It’s an amazing act of cowardice, and ultimately, it’s treasonous to the conservative cause,“ he wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Examiner.

Trump, too, fired back, calling McConnell a “disgrace” as he defended the party’s candidate roster.

“There’s some very good people,” he said in a radio interview. “You know, takes a lot of courage to run and they spend their wealth on it and they put their reputations on the line.”

Democrats have also piled on.

“Senate campaigns are candidate versus candidate battles and Republicans have put forward a roster of deeply flawed recruits,” said David Bergstein, the Senate Democratic campaign committee’s communication director. He credited Trump with deterring experienced Republicans from running, elevating flawed candidates and forcing them to take positions that are out of step with the general electorate.

“All those factors have contributed to the weakness of the slate of Republican candidates they’ve been left with,” he said. A Trump spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

In Pennsylvania, Republicans are hoping Oz’s shortcomings as a candidate will be overshadowed by concerns about Fetterman, who suffered a stroke just days before the primary and has been sidelined for much of the summer. He continues to keep a light public schedule and visibly struggled to speak at a recent event.

Republicans acknowledge that Oz struggles to come off as authentic and was slow to punch back as Fetterman spent the summer trolling him on social media and portraying him as an out-of-touch carpetbagger from New Jersey.

While Fetterman, whom Republicans deride as “Bernie Sanders in gym shorts,” leads Oz in polls and fundraising, Republicans say they expect the money gap to narrow and are pleased to see Oz within striking distance after getting hammered by $20 million in negative advertising during the primaries.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is helping finance a new round of Oz’s television ads, and the Senate Leadership Fund, a McConnell-aligned super political action committee, says it added $9.5 million to its TV buy — boosting its overall commitment to $34.1 million by Election Day.

“Regardless of what people may have heard in the primary, they’re going to realize that Oz is the best choice for Pennsylvania,” said Pennsylvania Republican National Committeeman Andy Reilly.

A super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., says it has made $32 million in television ad reservations in the state.

Oz has won over some once-skeptical voters, like Glen Rubendall, who didn’t vote for the TV doctor in his seven-way primary — a victory so narrow it went to a statewide recount — but said he’s come around.

“I’ve been listening to him speak, and I have a pro-Oz view now,” said Rubendall, a retired state corrections officer.

Traci Martin, a registered independent, also plans to vote for Oz because she opposes abortion, despite ads that aired during the primary featuring past Oz statements that seemed supportive of abortion rights.

“I hope he is (anti-abortion),” Martin said, “but the sad part is we live in an age when we see politicians say one thing and do another.”

___

Republished with permission from The Associated Press.

Associated Press


29 comments

  • Charlie Crist

    September 3, 2022 at 10:37 am

    Yeah get up there with that fat crook and sing everyone a song while he pours snake oil all over those stupid people.

    • Impeach Biden

      September 3, 2022 at 11:28 am

      STUPID PEOPLE:

      Interesting. I present the people of Delaware that voted for Der Fuhrer (Biden) six times for a total of thirty six years in the US Senate. Der Fuhrer has never worked in the private sector and he and his family would probably starve if it wasn’t for the Government giving him a paycheck. Funny how the Dems running for office stay far far away from Biden. They will all have to stand by the policies that Def Fuhrer has implemented. High fuel prices, inflation, big city crime, and the Southern Border chaos will come back and haunt the Fuhrer’s supporters come November.

      • Hope

        September 3, 2022 at 11:31 am

        Florida politics is censoring my comments.

        • Impeach Biden

          September 3, 2022 at 11:56 am

          Keep trying Hope. They do it to me as well sometimes. Yet the Corsin /Offen/ Crist and other alias get to post their trash with no censoring from the moderators.

          • Hahahaha

            September 3, 2022 at 2:26 pm

            Oh goodness. There is no moderation here. You are obviously struggling with the technology. Maybe get one of your grandkids to help you figure out how to get past those darn tricky captchas.

          • Avy115

            September 3, 2022 at 3:31 pm

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      • Charlie Crist

        September 3, 2022 at 12:28 pm

        @Impeach Trump: You keep referring to Biden as a nazi for opposing a fascist movement. It is TRUMP who told 40,000 lies to soften everyone up for the big lie. TRUMP is a crook. MAGA is an antidemocratic movement. Your scapegoating is pitiful and silly nonsense.

        • Impeach Biden

          September 3, 2022 at 12:54 pm

          The only thing missing from that dark and twisted speech the other night was a swastika behind Der Fuhrer as he attacked roughly one half of the nation’s population. The unifier is a divider.

          • Charlie Crist

            September 3, 2022 at 1:21 pm

            Trump is Hitler.. Orange Hitler. Not Biden. You fail buddy…

          • Brass Biscuit

            September 3, 2022 at 5:39 pm

            The orange golfer/liar might take this opportunity to reinforce the “Joe is just like a certain mustachioed dictator” narrative by wearing a Confederate uniform, as did Nutty Doug!

      • Mr. Haney

        September 6, 2022 at 3:43 pm

        When has Marco Rubio ever had a real job?

        Why is it you can’t seem to focus on Florida since this is a Florida Politics site?

        Why are you a lying coward?

  • Hope

    September 3, 2022 at 10:52 am

    McConnell is just rallying the Republicans, a message to not take this race for granted, but there is no comparison. OZ will win overwhelmingly as Pennsylvanians want jobs and are tired of the Biden oppression, inflation, and mismanagement. It will be OZ for the win!

    • Elliott Offen

      September 3, 2022 at 11:10 am

      Yeah Trump called McConnell a “broken old crow.” Trump wipes his fat azz with everyone eventually. What are you some kind of masochist???

      • Hope

        September 3, 2022 at 11:23 am

        Sad, deny, ignore, deflect,.. creating multiple usernames, multiple personalities and still unable to cover up that Biden has no wins to sell America. Game over for Biden.

      • Hope

        September 3, 2022 at 11:33 am

        America. Game over for Biden.

        No wins for Biden to sell to America.

        • Charlie Crist

          September 3, 2022 at 12:24 pm

          Trump sold the American dream to billionaires using tax cuts.. after he pledged to make it a reality again. Trump was a con man and far right troll. He will be charged!

          • Impeach Biden

            September 3, 2022 at 12:26 pm

            Funny for a so called rich guy, you continue to take your shots at the wealthy. You are a socialist troll.

        • marylou

          September 4, 2022 at 2:26 pm

          You really need to learn how to translate Republicanese into English.
          Biden has many record accomplishments: inflation reduction, veterans health care, CHIPS technology, gun violence action, restored international leadership damaged by t-Rump, ended US longest war, strengthened Violence Against Women Act, ended forced arbitration for assault and harassment survivors, passed American Rescue Plan, record job growth (All Presidents in history—-including t-Rump), largest free vaccine program, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, climate action, strengthened ACA, 1st Black woman SCOTUS, strengthened Made in America

    • Quack attack

      September 3, 2022 at 2:11 pm

      Again, call your doctor about these delusions. Anyone who thinks that carpetbagging quack has any chance has lost their grip on reality.

      Why do you people keep supporting these con artists?

      • Charlie Crist

        September 3, 2022 at 5:23 pm

        @Quack: These stupid people are gonna get us all killed for Christ sakes!! You know the people that join the military only to be found incompetent to hold a rifle??? That’s these people!!!

    • marylou

      September 4, 2022 at 2:36 pm

      OZ is a 100% abortion ban, scam diet pill peddler from New Jersey who owns TEN homes. He blows his money on “crudités”, instead of picking up a vegetable tray like normal people do. What a joke!

    • Mr. Haney

      September 6, 2022 at 3:44 pm

      You can’t even find Pennsylvania. Why don’t you ask Putin where it is?

  • Hopeful

    September 3, 2022 at 11:27 am

    Sad, deny, ignore, deflect,.. creating multiple usernames, multiple personalities and still unable to cover up that Biden has no wins to sell America. Game over for Biden.

    • Joe Corsin

      September 4, 2022 at 3:47 pm

      He has accomplishments. See you people lie your azz off. This is why you are gonna get it and get it good.. because you people are pure evil. Satan has got you people good and you gonna burn in hell🔥

  • PeterH

    September 3, 2022 at 5:27 pm

    REPUBLICANS HAVE SOMETHING TO CHEER ABOUT

    Since Reagan made abortion a religious and Republican Party issue instead of a family decision between a woman and her physician……. I don’t understand why Republicans who have fought for five decades to overturn Roe v Wade are not campaigning and championing their historic win with ads and candidate endorsements?

    Here in Florida we never hear from Rubio, Scott or DeSantis on this historic win for the GOP!

  • Bill

    September 4, 2022 at 12:48 pm

    Keep it up trumpy. Make it all about you and lose the midterms for the R’s. Snatch that defeat from the jaws of victory as they say. What a moron.

  • marylou

    September 4, 2022 at 2:50 pm

    Has Hair-Hitler explained why he had all those empty Classified folders at his golf club… and where the documents are now? What about the folder marked “CLASSIFIED” that he has on display at Tacky Trump Tower?

  • marylou

    September 4, 2022 at 3:25 pm

    Trump supported Republicans are removing their anti-woman, 100% no exceptions, abortion bans from their websites. They know women don’t want the government turning back their rights to the 1950s. And, polls are now showing overwhelming support for abortion rights.

    Like deDictator, Republicans are hiding their plans until after the election. Vote out all Republicans.

    • Mr. Haney

      September 6, 2022 at 3:47 pm

      Republicans are cowards, it is that simple.

Comments are closed.


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