Dr. Mehmet Oz is being widely rebuked after the Republican candidate's campaign for Pennsylvania's open U.S. Senate seat said that his Democratic opponent Lt. Gov. John Fetterman would not have suffered a stroke earlier this year if he "had ever eaten a vegetable in his life."
In a statement released early Wednesday, Fetterman's team said the comment from the Oz's senior communications adviser Rachel Tripp was an "unhinged" and "nasty" thing to say even during a high-stakes political race, in addition to being "irresponsible" coming from a physician who should know better.
"I had a stroke. I survived it. I'm truly so grateful to still be here today," Fetterman said.
"I know politics can be nasty, but even then," he added, "I could never imagine ridiculing someone for their health challenges."
Fetterman had a stroke in May just ahead of winning the Democratic primary and recently returned to the campaign trail after weeks of recovery. Fetterman has been a relentless critic of Oz, trolling the celebrity doctor turned Trump-backed politician for not living in Pennsylvania until recently and criticizing the ultra-millionaire for being screamingly out of touch with regular, working-class voters.
The topic of vegetables recently became a point of contention between the two after Fetterman and his supporters lambasted Oz for a video in which the Republican candidate complained about how much it cost at the grocery store to put together a crudités, a French word for veggie platter.
The Fetterman campaign has also tried to portray Oz as a charlatan who has used his status as a doctor to push questionable treatments and health advise on his unsuspected television audiences. Earlier this month, as Common Dreams reported, a group backing Fetterman and calling itself "Doctors Against Oz" put forward the case that the GOP candidate should be seen as little more than a "quack" doctor only interested in getting rich.
During a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Arkoosh, chair of Montgomery County Board of Commissioners and a member of the Doctors Against Oz, condemned the comments by the Oz campaign.
"No real doctor—or any decent human being, to be honest—would ever mock a stroke victim who is recovering from that stroke in the way that Dr. Oz is mocking John Fetterman," said Arkoosh. "It's disgusting."