Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who's supporting businessman Dave McCormick in the Pennsylvania GOP primary, on Friday questioned the "priority" of candidate Mehmet Oz.
Oz, who's backed by former President Donald Trump and leads in the polls, has been criticized by his opponents for holding American and Turkish citizenship.
Oz, a former heart surgeon and TV show host, in March said he will renounce his dual citizenship in Turkey if elected to the Senate.
ABC News reported Wednesday that Oz voted in Turkey’s 2018 election despite previously saying he never had been involved politically in the country "in any capacity."
"We criticize American candidates all the time because they didn’t vote," Pompeo said during a Friday briefing arranged by the McCormick campaign. "This is different from that. Not only did he not engage in the American [process] but he engaged in the Turkish political process. That raises in my mind a lot of judgments about his priority.
"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.”
Oz campaign spokesperson Brittany Yanick confirmed to ABC that Oz voted in the election but denied that the vote amounted to “political involvement,” The Hill reported.
Yanick said Pompeo's briefing was an example of "sad and desperate attacks" by the McCormick campaign after not getting Trump’s endorsement.
"He’s resorted to sad and desperate attacks that are no different than the tropes used against Catholics and Jews," the spokesperson said, The Hill reported.
"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."
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