Dr. Mehmet Oz is running for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO

Dr. Mehmet Oz, who is running to replace Pat Toomey as a Pennsylvania senator, said that he would renounce his Turkish citizenship to gain security clearance if elected to the U.S. Senate.

On March 16, Pennsylvania news outlet PoliticsPA reported that Oz had said he would forego security clearance in order to keep his citizenship.

According to the report, Oz explained that he keeps his Turkish citizenship in order to return to Turkey and care for his aging mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease. 

“I can love my country [the United States] and love my mom,” Oz reportedly said.

Former Republican candidate Sean Parnell – who dropped out of the Pennsylvania Senate race in November 2021 – responded on social media, saying “This is disqualifying.”

However, Casey Contres, campaign manager for the former television celebrity, denied the report in a tweet.

“Dr. Oz never said this,” Contres wrote. “I was standing right there. I’ve asked the reporter to correct his reporting as it’s inaccurate.

“Also, you can have a dual citizenship and full security clearance in congress. Even asking this question is ridiculous.”

Under current U.S. law, dual citizens are permitted to gain security clearance so long as they do not live in, vote in, receive benefits from, or carry the passport of the country in which they have dual citizenship.

Still, following the storm that erupted over the issue, Oz told Fox News that he would give up his Turkish citizenship if elected.

“My dual citizenship has become a distraction in this campaign,” Oz said March 16. “I maintained it to care for my ailing mother, but after several weeks of discussions with my family, I’m committing that before I am sworn in as the next U.S. Senator for Pennsylvania I will only be a U.S. citizen.”

The issue has long been an important one to Oz’s opponents, and some say that the promise is too little, too late.

In February, a spokesman for David McCormick, a rival Republican candidate, said that “voters of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have a right to ask why Cleveland, Ohio-born Mehmet Oz won’t renounce his Turkish citizenship and why he chose to serve in the Turkish military over America’s military.”

In a statement to The Epoch Times, McCormick’s campaign added, “The people of PA deserve a U.S. senator who will serve their interests and their interests only – and not be conflicted on some of the most important security issues facing our country. Mehmet Oz sought out and maintains to this day dual citizenship with Turkey and chose to serve in the Turkish military.”

McCormick rejected Oz’s contention that the issue was a “distraction.”

“Mehmet Oz was born in the U.S. and, as an adult, sought out dual citizenship with Turkey – a country often hostile to the United States. He chose to serve in Turkey’s military, he has connections to both the Turkish military and Erdogan government, and has significant financial assets in Turkey,” the campaign said. “Having such strong connections to a country with a history of hostility to U.S. interests raises significant concerns about where his loyalties lie. This is no distraction, this is rightfully a real concern for many voters.”

“Oz is now saying he would renounce his dual citizenship to Turkey but only on the condition that the people of PA elect him to the U.S. Senate first,” the statement said. “If you’re a PA voter rightfully concerned about Mehmet Oz’s Turkish military and government ties, his response to you is you must elect him to the Senate first before he does anything to alleviate your concerns.

McCormick added a renewed call for Oz to renounce his Turkish citizenship: “He claims to put America First – then why doesn’t he today?”

In a statement to another news outlet, Oz called the demand “disgraceful” and “bigoted,” and said it was “reminiscent of slurs made in the past about Catholics and Jews.”

“It is a sign of McCormick’s desperate campaign that he has resorted to this disgraceful tactic,” Oz added.

According to polling data compiled by Real Clear Politics, McCormick is currently the GOP frontrunner with about 19.5 percent support. The next closest challenger is Oz, who has 17.8 percent support, putting him 1.7 points behind McCormick.

EPOCH TIMES

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