Pompeo vs. Trump in Pennsylvania, as former top U.S. diplomat goes after Oz's ties to Turkey

The former secretary of State is widely believed to be planning a 2024 bid for the White House
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
(Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is criticizing ties between Pennsylvania GOP Senate candidate Mehmet Oz and Turkey, the country from which his parents hail and for which he served in the military. 

Pompeo's criticisms of Oz also place the former top U.S. diplomat in direct opposition to former President Trump, who is backing Oz, and in whose administration he served.

Trump and Pompeo each are considered top, possible 2024 GOP presidential candidates. 

Former hedge-funder David McCormick is Pompeo's candidate of choice.

Oz is leading McCormick 20.5% to 18%, according to the most recent RealClearPolitics poll average, with the primary on May. 17.

"We criticize American candidates all the time because they didn’t vote," Pompeo said of Oz. "This is different from that. Not only did he not engage in the American [political process] but he engaged in the Turkish political process. That raises in my mind a lot of judgments about his priority."

During a recent briefing advertised by the McCormick campaign, Pompeo called McCormick a "patriot" and accused Oz's ties to the Turkish government of being suspect. 

This week, it was revealed that Oz voted in Turkey's 2018 election, despite previously claiming he was never involved in the country's political process. His campaign denied that his vote amounted to "political involvement."

Oz currently holds Turkish citizenship, but says he will renounce it if he is elected. He currently owns property in Turkey and has an endorsement deal with Turkish airlines. 

"Maybe it’s all innocent, maybe it’s all straight up, but we and the people of Pennsylvania and the Americans who he will be representing as one of the 100 members of the United States Senate voting on important national security matters need to understand the scope and depth of his relationship with the Turkish government," Pompeo said. "This isn’t about whether it’s lawful, it’s about who is best suited to be the next United States senator from Pennsylvania that’s been represented by a patriotic American conservative for an awfully long time."

Oz's campaign called Pompeo's words "pathetic and xenophobic attacks."

The campaign said McCormick has "resorted to sad and desperate attacks that are no different than the tropes used against Catholics and Jews. Dr. Oz has already said when elected to the Senate he would renounce his citizenship.

"There is no security issue whatsoever, and David McCormick knows that Dr. Oz has maintained his dual citizenship to make it easier to help care for his mother who has Alzheimer’s and lives there."