Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday Pennsylvania GOP Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz—who former President Donald Trump endorsed—poses “national security concerns” due to his ties to the Turkish government and military, and called for Oz’ campaign to provide an explanation.
Pompeo told reporters on a call hosted by Oz’s competitor, David McCormick, he has questions about Oz’s “priorities,” including Oz voting in the 2018 Turkish election and serving in the Turkish military.
Pompeo claimed from his experience adjudicating security clearances, these questions need to be answered as they will be asked while determining Oz’s eligibility for a clearance as a member of Congress.
The former secretary of state called for Oz’s campaign to provide an explanation for why Oz had the “time and energy to vote in a Turkish election, but not in an American election” so that Pennsylvanians can make a “good decision.”
Oz’s campaign spokesperson Brittany Yanick said in a statement to Forbes there is “no security issue whatsoever” with Oz voting in the Turkish election, and that Oz has already said he would renounce his Turkish citizenship, if elected to the Senate.
“These are pathetic and xenophobic attacks on Dr. Oz by David McCormick, who should be ashamed of himself,” Yanick said. “Now that he lost President Trump’s endorsement, he’s resorted to sad and desperate attacks that are no different than the tropes used against Catholics and Jews.”
Pompeo endorsed McCormick in February, saying he would be tough on China, push for strong borders and “work tirelessly to restore America’s energy independence,” whereas Trump endorsed Oz last month, setting up a showdown between the backing power of two potential presidential candidates. Trump and Pompeo have not yet announced runs for 2024, though Pompeo said in an interview with Fox News that any potential decision will be independent of what Trump decides.
Trump appeared to be a major factor in Ohio’s Republican Senate primary on Tuesday. J.D. Vance, a lawyer and former Trump critic, jumped from about 10% support to becoming the winner of the primary following Trump’s endorsement in mid-April, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average. Trump’s endorsements have not always been the deciding factor in races, and Trump backed-former Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), a Georgia gubernatorial candidate, could be at risk of losing to incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp (R-Ga.).
What To Watch For
Trump is hosting a rally for Oz in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, on Friday evening, where about 20,000 people are expected to attend and Trump and Vance will speak. Pennsylvania’s primary will be held on May 17.