A day after he rallied with President Donald Trump, Republican U.S. Senate nominee Mehmet Oz held an event with Sen. Susan Collins in toss-up Bucks County just outside of Philadelphia in a final appeal to the political center ahead of Tuesday’s election.
The Sunday before Pennsylvania’s critical midterm elections was a blitz of campaigning in the Southeast region, a day after three presidents stumped for their candidates in the key races. At Democratic rally a few miles away, gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro and Oz opponent John Fetterman rallied with a crowd calling both Republicans extremists.
Oz’s conversation at the Washington Crossing Inn with Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick centered on the need for balance and bipartisanship in Congress, particularly to help small-business owners who were also in attendance.
For months, the famed TV doctor has aimed to project a more moderate political image, focusing heavily on the Philadelphia suburbs. Three days before the election, he appeared at the Trump rally, where Trump repeated lies about the 2020 election being stolen. Oz has said he would have voted to certify the results of the 2020 election.
Collins’ involvement is notable. She has not held public events in Maine this year with either former Gov. Paul LePage, the Republican gubernatorial nominee, or former U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Maine’s 2nd District, in a toss-up race with Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden. She endorsed LePage at the outset of his return bid against Gov. Janet Mills, but not Poliquin.
She has a lot riding on the Senate’s balance of power. The 50-50 chamber is nominally controlled by Democrats, so Republicans only need to gain one seat to flip the chamber. Collins is in line to be the top member of her party on the appropriations committee next year and would lead it if Republicans win the chamber.
In Pennsylvania on Sunday, Collins said Oz would bring “balance” to the Senate and “listen to both sides.” She defended Oz by telling reporters after the event that she did not think it was mixed messaging for the Senate nominee to appear onstage with Trump a day before.
“I think it shows he can work well with people having a variety of viewpoints, and that’s what we need in Washington,” she said. “We need people who are willing to cross party lines. We need people with different backgrounds.”
Collins, an abortion-rights supporter, has said she would codify in federal legislation the provisions in Roe v. Wade. Oz has a more restrictive stance on abortion: He has said he only supports abortion in cases or rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother, something she called a “mainstream position.”
“What Dr. Oz has been very clear in saying is that he does not think there should be a federal anti-abortion law,” Collins said.
About 10 minutes from Washington Crossing, Shapiro and Fetterman held a joint outdoor campaign rally at Bucks County Community College.
Supporters of the Democrats walked through a crowd of about 50 supporters of Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano lining the pathway into the rally. The Mastriano supporters shouted “pedophile lover!” and “F— Joe Biden,” as people entered.
The rally crowd of about 700 gathered as the sun set, with the Fetterman and Shapiro buses parked in the background of the campus in Newtown, in critical Bucks County. Fetterman noted the importance of closely divided Bucks County in the race.
“This is one of the biggest races in the nation, and you wanna know why? There’s 100 million reasons why,” Fetterman said. “That’s how much they’ve spent trying to destroy me. But we’re still standing, and I’m gonna need every one of you to go out and have your plan, get your friends, get your families all ready to vote.”
Story by Julia Terruso and Chris Brennan, The Philadelphia Inquirer. BDN writer Michael Shepherd contributed to this report.