Apr 10, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Trump gambles GOP kingmaker status with Dr. Oz endorsement


Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Former President Trump's surprise endorsement of TV's Dr. Oz on Saturday in the Republican U.S. Senate primary in Pennsylvania is a gamble, and a substantial test of his endorsement power.

Why it matters: If Mehmet Oz's chief rival for the nomination, Dave McCormick, wins anyway on May 17, people will say the words Trump hates most: "He did it without Trump."

Behind the scenes: McCormick met twice with Trump at Mar-a-Lago — including last Wednesday — hoping for his endorsement or at least his neutrality.

The big picture: Trump has already made some failed endorsements this cycle. Each time one of his candidates fails, his aura fades as GOP kingmaker.

  • Some of Trump’s advisers are worried about him taking such a risk on Oz — who recent polls suggest is a fairly weak and beatable candidate.
  • The road now is harder for McCormick, a former hedge-fund CEO and official of President George W. Bush's administration. But McCormick could still win.

Between the lines: The former president's wife, Melania Trump, and Fox News' Sean Hannity, friends of Oz's, had been pressing Trump to back him, sources tell Jonathan Swan.

  • The endorsement divided MAGA Twitter, with some Trump supporters criticizing his Oz backing.

An open question: How hard will Trump work to help Oz?

  • History shows a Trump statement isn’t enough. Will he go scorched earth against McCormick — the husband of Powell, who has brought onto his campaign several high-profile former Trump aides? We doubt it.

What's next: Beginning a week from today — a month out from the primary — look for one of the hottest statewide ad wars ever.

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