Dr. Oz Challenges Dr. Fauci to COVID-19 Debate in Senate Campaign Ad

Dr. Mehmet Oz, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, has released a campaign ad blasting Dr. Anthony Fauci, challenging him to a debate on COVID-19.

Oz, best known for hosting his now-cancelled Dr. Oz daytime talk show, first announced the debate challenge as part of a teaser for an interview on conservative network Newsmax just before his campaign ad was released to social media on Thursday.

The challenge came only two days after Fauci, a medical adviser to every U.S. president since former President Ronald Reagan and the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), accused Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) of attacking him for "political gain."

Oz's ad begins with a graphic that says "liberals love Fauci" appearing on screen as celebrities including Jeff Goldblum, former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo and The View co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Sunny Hostin are shown mentioning Fauci. Oz then appears while standing in front of a backdrop promoting his campaign.

"Dr. Fauci, instead of letting the sycophantic media fawn all over you, let's talk facts: You got COVID wrong," Oz says in the ad before several more news clips critical of Fauci play. "Dr. Fauci, let's get the facts straight here."

"You and me, let's have a debate—doctor to doctor—and give the American people the truth about COVID-19," he continues. "I'm game, anytime, anywhere. Dr. Fauci, are you in?"

During his interview on Newsmax, Oz told host Eric Bolling that he wanted to debate Fauci about vaccine mandates, "ignoring naturally acquired immunity" and "inexcusable delays with therapeutics." He also called Fauci a "petty tyrant" and "the J. Edgar Hoover public health."

Mehmet Oz Anthony Fauci Republican Senate Debate
Dr. Oz challenged Dr. Fauci to a debate on COVID-19 in a campaign ad on Thursday. Oz is pictured during the 2017 Concordia Annual Summit in New York City on September 19, 2017. Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for Concordia Summit/Getty

Oz's own medical advice has been heavily criticized in the past. Critics have accused Oz of using his daytime tv fame to promote debunked, or at best highly questionable, "cures" and treatments like colloidal silver, green coffee extracts, umckaloabo root extract and raspberry ketones.

The Republican candidate also touted the supposed COVID-fighting abilities of hydroxychloroquine, a drug that research later showed is not effective as a treatment for the virus, as "the biggest game-changer in the history of medicine."

Oz is not the only physician running for the Senate seat. Democratic candidate Dr. Val Arkoosh, who calls herself as a "no-BS physician," has also criticized Oz for allegedly promoting misinformation.

Last month, Arkoosh told The New York Times that she does not understand "how he still has a license, with some of the stuff that comes out his mouth."

Fauci accused Oz's potential future Republican Senate colleague Paul of using his name to evoke conservative furor as a fundraising tactic during a hearing on Tuesday.

"You personally attack me, and with absolutely not a shred of evidence of anything you say," Fauci told Paul at the Senate Health Committee hearing. "So, I would like to make something clear to the committee, he's doing this for political reasons."

"Go to [the] Rand Paul website and you see 'fire Dr. Fauci' with a little box that says, 'contribute here,'" he added. "You can do $5, $10, $20, $100. So, you are making a catastrophic epidemic for your political gain."

Not long after the hearing, Paul's campaign sent out a new fundraising email titled "Fauci is hysterical," which asked supporters to "Chip in if you agree!"

Newsweek reached out to Fauci and NIAID for comment.