Pennsylvania's Republican candidate for the state's open U.S. Senate seat visited the epicenter of Philadelphia's opioid epidemic on Monday, trying to call attention to the national issue and attempting to find some support in the heavily Democratic city.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, who faces Democratic candidate John Fetterman in the Nov. 8 election, said he came to "speak about these difficult issues because this is how we begin to change government policies and address issues at a cultural and societal level."
He held a public discussion in Germantown and toured Kensington with a local barber, even picking up a used needle at one point while talking about drug use in the heroin-ravaged neighborhood.
"Being here today and listening to your stories, some inspiring and some heartbreaking, is my number one job - both as a candidate and your next senator," he said in a statement after his visit. "A big part of it is creating more opportunities in your communities so that we begin to break cycles and build both wealth and more possibilities for success."
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Oz has trailed Fetterman in polls throughout the summer, but has campaigned throughout the state, including in a campaign stop with former President Donald Trump in western Pennsylvania last month. He has more recently attacked Fetterman relentlessly for the Democrat's refusal to debate Oz.
Fetterman two weeks ago agreed to debate Oz in October, and said it's nonsense that he was ducking Oz. Fetterman's campaign said historically there have not been debates in statewide races until October.
Before his stop in Kensington, Oz took part in a discussion in Germantown about helping lower income families and residents. He released a "Plan to Fight for Black Communities," but some opposition showed up at that event.
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That included state Rep. Chris Rabb, a Democrat who represents a portion of Philadelphia in the state legislature, who ripped up an Oz campaign pamphlet in front of the Republican.
"I arrived, and after Oz’s staff first tried to keep me out of the meeting, they ushered me to a place on the panel one seat down from Oz. I repeatedly tried to speak during the program and make my voice heard, but was never allowed to," Rabb said. "I was disgusted by what I heard at this event, which made clear that Oz does not understand my community and was only here for a photo op. After the program ended and Oz began to address the cameras, I stood up, ripped up Oz’s pamphlet, and left."
Oz took a walk through Kensington before leaving the city, getting a tour from a local barber. At one point, the Republican picked up a used heroin needle.
"So what do you tell your daughter when she walks by this?" he asked the barber.
"To be honest, I have to keep it honest with her," the barber replied. "I have to tell her that there are certain people out here who are getting, you know, high, basically doing dope, shooting up heroin."