By Paul Gable
Former President Donald Trump’s weekend endorsement of Mehmet Cengiz Oz (Dr. Oz) for the U. S. Senate from Pennsylvania makes one wonder how Trump has drifted so far from his Make America Great Again base.
Most of Trump’s MAGA supporters in the S C 7th Congressional District have been pondering that question for more than a month since Trump endorsed Russell Fry, a bona fide member in good standing of the Horry County ‘Swamp’.
How does a man (Oz) who was born in the United States of Turkish immigrant parents, who still holds dual citizenship (U.S. and Turkey) and who served in the Turkish Army (but not the U.S. Army) in order to maintain his Turkish citizenship get an America First endorsement? Oz has said he will renounce his Turkish citizenship if he’s elected to the Senate, but, apparently not if he loses.
(As a veteran of ten years of active duty service in the U. S. Navy, I find it offensive that a candidate for U. S. Senate would even consider keeping dual citizenship, or, put another way – split allegiance between two countries.)
How does any of this fit into Trump’s ‘America First’ mold?
And the above doesn’t consider Oz’s support of the transgender movement, including voicing support for biological males who are now competing in women’s sports, a No-No for MAGA conservatives.
Sean Parnell, the candidate originally endorsed by Trump for the PA Senate race, but who dropped out of the contest in November, summed up his thoughts about the Oz endorsement.
“I have enormous respect for President Trump,” Parnell tweeted. “But I’m disappointed by this. Oz is the antithesis of everything that made Trump the best president of my lifetime – he’s the farthest thing from America First and he’d be very bad for PA.”
Trump’s endorsement statement included, “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.”
Are we to conclude that Trump endorsed Oz because he likes him on television? That is not what the America First movement is supposed to be about.
Whatever happened to candidates devoted to ‘Drain the Swamp’?
This also applies to the Fry (who Trump doesn’t know from Adam) endorsement in the 7th Congressional District race. Fry is a staunch member of ‘The Swamp’ in Horry County. Fry is totally tied to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and its sister political arm, the Grand Strand Business Alliance. Fry appears on the GSBA website in a video praising the Chamber and its initiatives, such as Interstate 73.
Fry has never voiced his thoughts on whether Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election and had the victory stolen from him. Fry only started to criticize incumbent Rep. Tom Rice, for voting to impeach Trump, after Fry decided to enter the Congressional race. To this day, that one vote is the only thing that separates the Fry and Rice candidacies. They are both members of ‘The Swamp’.
I submit that is the reason Fry has yet to attend any of the local forums for 7th Congressional District candidates. He is unable to voice more than soundbites about his supposed America First position and couldn’t compete with other candidates who actually talk about the issues important to 7th Congressional District voters.
Fry’s entire campaign seems to be ‘vote for me because Trump endorsed me’, regardless of what he really stands for.
Local America First activist Chad Caton understands this even if Trump doesn’t. Caton strongly supports Trump’s America First agenda and, for that reason, strongly opposes Fry’s candidacy. As Caton points out, Fry only has a 58% overall conservative voting record rating from the American Conservative Union for his six years in the SC House. That is an F.
Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, who Trump initially endorsed in the Alabama Senate race but since rescinded his endorsement, addressed the increasing confusion among Trump’s base about his candidate endorsements.
“This is happening because Trump’s surrounded himself by staff who are on McConnell’s payroll & hostile to the MAGA agenda. Everybody telling Trump who to endorse in primaries works for The Swamp,” said Brooks.
For the voters of the SC 7th Congressional District, the state of Pennsylvania and other states and districts where recent Trump endorsements have drawn criticism from his base, the question in the upcoming Republican primaries will be ‘do you vote for a candidate just because Trump endorsed him or her or will you think for yourself and vote for a candidate who truly puts America First’ and wants to ‘drain the swamp’?