Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman has raised over half a million dollars in the wake of an absurd and widely mocked campaign video by his Republican opponent Dr. Mehmet Oz, Fetterman’s campaign said on Tuesday.
In a statement, the campaign said that it had raised over $500,000 in just over a day after the video went viral this week, amassing over 11 million views. The backlash to the video was largely because it showed Oz, who has lied about owning 10 houses, as out of touch with regular people, the campaign said.
In the video posted in April that resurfaced this week, Oz is in a Pennsylvania grocery store. He picks up several vegetables and dips that he refers to as “crudités” in order to criticize the Biden administration over inflation (though experts say that it’s outside pressure and corporate greed, not Joe Biden, that are causing inflation). At the beginning of the video, Oz says that he’s in “Wegners” — a grocery store that doesn’t exist — likely meaning to say Wegman’s or Redner’s, two grocery chains in Pennsylvania.
Fetterman’s campaign capitalized on the popularity of the video, which was widely mocked across the internet and by Fetterman himself. Over $65,000 of the funding that the campaign raised after the video went viral came through sales of a sticker that reads: “Wegners: Let Them Eat Crudité,” the campaign says.
“Our campaign isn’t self-funded by a multi-millionaire celebrity doctor, it’s funded by hundreds of thousands of grassroots donors,” said Fetterman campaign manager Brendan McPhillips. “John actually understands what it’s like to go grocery shopping and to see prices go up. Oz clearly has never been in a grocery store before. That’s why this is resonating with supporters across Pennsylvania.”
Half a million dollars is an astonishing amount of money to raise in such a short amount of time. In the second quarter of this fiscal year, Oz’s campaign raised only $3.8 million — $2.2 million of which was given by Oz himself, and much of which has come from dark money sources. According to financial disclosure forms, the campaign had only about $1.1 million on hand by the end of June.
Meanwhile, Fetterman’s campaign has broken political fundraising records, raising $10 million during the same three-month period, with $5.5 million on hand around the same time. The campaign touted in May that it had reached 200,000 individual donors, with an average donation of $29. The funding disparities mirror polling for the race; according to a FiveThirtyEight aggregation of polls, Fetterman currently has 49.1 percent support, putting him 11.5 points ahead of Oz.
At least part of Fetterman’s campaign success can be attributed to his lighthearted criticisms of Oz. Last month, for instance, Fetterman posted a video of Nicole Polizzi — known as Snooki from the MTV show “Jersey Shore” — talking sarcastically about how much New Jersey residents respect Oz. The video is one of many ribs from Fetterman’s campaign about repeated questions over whether or not Oz lives in Pennsylvania; in 2020, People reported in a story with a tour of Oz’s house that he and his wife had lived in a mansion in New Jersey for 20 years. Oz’s campaign says that the couple currently lives in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania.
Fetterman’s success could also be explained by his beliefs and campaign platform. The Pennsylvania lieutenant governor is staunchly pro-union and has a populist platform, supporting proposals like marijuana legalization and universal health care — positions that poll well among the public. He does break with progressives on key issues, however; earlier this year, for instance, he lightly criticized the Biden administration for ending Title 42, the cruel policy that barred asylum seekers from crossing the southern border.
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