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Days before Tuesday’s Republican primary election in Pennsylvania, senatorial candidate Dr. Oz said during an interview Saturday that a comment made by one of his primary opponents, Kathy Barnette, should disqualify her from contention.
The remark concerns a tweet from 2015 when Barnette said “pedophilia” was a fundamental tenet of the Islamic religion.
Oz. is hoping to become the state’s first Muslim senator and said the comment should be “disqualifying” as it attacks those who observe the religion.
“It’s reprehensible that she would tweet out something that is defamatory to an entire religion,” Oz said in an interview with the Associated Press Saturday, just days before the Republican primary in Pennsylvania on Tuesday.
“This state was based on religious freedom. I’m proud as a Pennsylvanian to uphold those founding beliefs that every faith has its merits,” he added.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, Professor of Surgery, Columbia University speaks onstage at Sheraton New York on September 21, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Concordia Summit) (Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Concordia Summit)
Barnette’s 2015 tweet read: “Pedophilia is a Cornerstone of Islam.”
“Every time she answers a question, she raises more questions,” Oz said in the interview. “But I think it’s disqualifying to make Islamophobic and homophobic comments, not just for the general election, but the Republican primary as well.”
Barnette denied writing the tweet in an interview last week, saying, “I would never have said that.” She didn’t explain how the tweet might have ended up on her feed.
FILE: Kathy Barnette, Republican U.S. Senate candidate, speaks at a Moms for Liberty rally at the Pennsylvania State Capitol. (Paul Weaver/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
The Republican doctor was also asked to clarify his views on abortion, a usual hot topic during an election that has moved to the forefront amid a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court that pointed to the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Dr. Oz described himself as “pro-life” but said “there are times” when he disagrees “with other pro-life advocates.”
“In my case, those disagreements often come about because, as a doctor, I’ve dealt with issues that threaten the life of the mother,” he added, noting he would want a provision to any potential abortion ban that would provide an exception for rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother.
Pennsylvania Senate candidate Mehmet Oz, left, accompanied by former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Greensburg, Pa., Friday, May 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
In April, Trump endorsed Oz in an email to his supporters where he called him “popular, respected, and smart.”
“The Great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a tremendous opportunity to Save America by electing the brilliant and well-known Dr. Mehmet Oz for the United States Senate,” Trump said. “I have known Dr. Oz for many years, as have many others, even if only through his very successful television show. He has lived with us through the screen and has always been popular, respected, and smart.”
“Dr. Oz is Pro-Life, very strong on Crime, the Border, Election Fraud, our Great Military, and our vets, Tax Cuts, and will always fight for and support our under-siege Second Amendment. He will ensure America will become Energy Independent again,” the former president added.
Trump also endorsed Republican Doug Mastriano for Pennsylvania governor over Republican primary candidates Lou Barletta, Bill McSwain, and Dave White.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.