Oz campaign attacks Fetterman’s health in latest dust-up over veggie trays

Oz campaign attacks Fetterman’s health in latest dust-up over veggie trays

It’s not exactly a garden-variety campaign attack – but in the closely watched Pennsylvania Senate race, the campaigns are going head to head over eating vegetables. It’s the latest in a series of fights between the two candidates in one of the most closely watched races of the 2022 midterms — and one that could decide the party control of the Senate come November.

The grocery store drama started last week after a video surfaced of Republican candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz attempting to slam President Biden on rising food prices. He entered a grocery store and gathered up vegetables, saying his wife loved “crudité.”

Although the video was from April, it went viral fast and soon enough, Fetterman’s team, which has been working to paint Oz as out of touch, seized on the video, with a series of social media posts saying it’s not called “crudité” in Pennsylvania — it’s a “veggie tray.” Fetterman’s campaign said last week that within 24 hours, it had raised $500,000 off the “crudité” video.

But this week, Oz tried to turn the tables on the veggie wars and focus on Fetterman’s health. In a statement to Insider, Oz’s campaign senior communications adviser said if the Democrat had “ever eaten a vegetable in his life, then maybe he wouldn’t have had a major stroke.”

John Fetterman, Mehmet Oz

Nate Smallwood/Getty Images, Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Fetterman suffered a serious stroke just days before the May primary. It sidelined him from the campaign trail for about three months, and he only returned to in-person campaigning less than two weeks ago. He said it is lucky he survived.

On Tuesday, Fetterman responded to the Oz campaign’s attack.

“I had a stroke. I survived it. I’m truly so grateful to still be here today,” Fetterman said in a statement. “I know politics can be nasty, but even then, I could never imagine ridiculing someone for their health challenges.”

According to Fetterman, his doctors expect him to fully recover. But upon returning to the campaign trail, Fetterman did acknowledge still having some auditory processing challenges and missing a word here and there.

The Oz campaign’s vegetable comments come as Oz has been lagging Fetterman in both polling and fundraising this summer in the Senate race for the seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.

Oz’s campaign has been raising questions about Fetterman’s health and accusing him of hiding. Earlier this month, Oz agreed to five debates, but Fetterman has not confirmed his participation.

Fetterman made his first public appearance back on the campaign trail August 12 in Erie, Penn.

Sarah Ewall-Wice

CBS News reporter covering economic policy.