(NewsNation Now) — Dr. Mehmet Oz, the celebrity heart surgeon best known as the host of TV’s “The Dr. Oz Show,” opened up about his bid in one of the nation’s most competitive Senate races, his state of residence and past criticisms.
Oz — a longtime New Jersey resident — is entering the crowded field for the soon-to-be-open U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania as a Republican. Several TV stations took down “The Dr. Oz Show” after Oz formally became a candidate.
“I want to serve America because we are in a time of need,” Oz said to NewsNation’s Adrienne Bankert on “Morning in America.” “I think everyone needs to roll their sleeves up and do their best. And to run for the Senate in the state of Pennsylvania, my home state, will allow me to do that.”
Oz said on Fox News earlier this week, “When you mix politics and medicine, you get politics.” Bankert asked Oz why he was running despite saying that was something he wanted to avoid.
“We don’t want people with good ideas to be shamed and silenced and bullied and canceled. And that’s what happened during COVID. That’s why I made that comment,” Oz said. “You know, in medicine, when you can say what you see with your own eyes, patients die. And I think we’re witnessing analogous situations in America.”
Oz has been dogged by accusations that he has sold “quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain,” a group of doctors wrote in 2015 in a letter calling for his firing from Columbia University’s medical school. He wasn’t fired.
Critics have called Oz, “the man behind the curtain,” and have criticized his controversial statements about alternative solutions for COVID-19 on his show such as using hydroxychloroquine for COVID. Hydroxychloroquine has not been proven to be an effective COVID-19 treatment, but was promoted by former President Donald Trump.
Oz said he is not deterred by critics or backlash.
“f you take on these big players, they get mad. I’ve got scars to prove it, but I can’t be bought,” Oz said.
“And I’m firm in my belief that it’s the right thing for Americans to hear all the options because I trust Americans to make the right decisions.”
In the spring of 2020, Oz came under fire for comments suggesting that reopening schools might be worth the extra deaths, because it “may only cost us 2% to 3% in terms of total mortality.” He later apologized.
Oz said he is firmly pro-life and backs the right to bear arms in his interview on “Morning in America.”
Oz also addressed why he isn’t running for office in New Jersey, where he has lived for the past two decades. Oz said he grew up, went to school and got married in Pennsylvania.
“I moved to New Jersey because I was making my medical practice and my television show and it’s the adjacent state,” said Oz. “We moved back last year. We do have land that we’re buying, but it takes a while because of where this land is. And so we rented a house that’s been in my wife’s family for a while it was convenient. I did this last year. I voted. I did lots of things that you do in life and I continue to do them in Pennsylvania instead of New Jersey.”
Oz said began voting in Pennsylvania’s elections this year by absentee ballot, registered to his in-laws’ address in suburban Philadelphia.
Oz first became a household name as a guest on Oprah Winfrey’s show before starting his own show in 2009..
Besides being a heart surgeon and an Emmy-winning TV host, Oz is also an author of New York Times bestsellers, presidential appointee, founder of a national nonprofit to educate teens about healthy habits and self-styled ambassador for wellness. Oz has no political background.
The most prominent Republicans already running are conservative commentator Kathy Barnette, real estate investor Jeff Bartos and Carla Sands, Trump’s wealthy ambassador to Denmark and fundraiser who recently returned to her native Pennsylvania after spending most of the past four decades in California.
Of them, none has won elective office, and only Bartos has run statewide in Pennsylvania, as lieutenant governor on the GOP’s losing gubernatorial ticket in 2018.
The Democratic field has been stable since August, featuring candidates with far more electoral experience — although far less personal wealth — than the Republican field. Best-known are John Fetterman, the state’s lieutenant governor, and U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb of suburban Pittsburgh.
Oz also answered viewer questions during the interview. You can watch the full interview with Dr. Oz in the player above.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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