Former US president Donald Trump has said he is endorsing celebrity surgeon Dr Mehmet Oz, who is running as a Republican in a closely watched US Senate contest in Pennsylvania.
“Dr Oz is smart, tough and will never let you down, therefore, he has my complete and total endorsement,” Mr Trump said at the weekend.
The race in Pennsylvania could determine control of the Senate and the fate of Democratic President Joe Biden's agenda. A crowded field of candidates are vying to replace the retiring Republican Senator Pat Toomey.
Mr Trump “knows how critical it is to change the kinds of people we send to Washington. I’m ready to fight,” Dr Oz said. “I thank him for that and I am proud to receive his endorsement.”
The top Republicans in the race are Dr Oz and David McCormick, a former hedge fund chief executive. Recent polls had Dr Oz and Mr McCormick neck and neck in the Republican primary contest to be held on May 17.
On the Democratic side, Pennsylvania's progressive lieutenant governor John Fetterman is locked in a race against Congressman Conor Lamb, a moderate representing the north-western suburbs of Pittsburgh.
Mr Toomey was one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Mr Trump in February 2021 after his impeachment on a charge that he incited last year's attack on the Capitol by his supporters. The Senate vote of 57-43 fell short of the two thirds majority needed to convict Mr Trump.
Dr Oz, known for his syndicated The Dr Oz Show, brings his TV personality to the wide-open contest to take place on November 8.
He rose to fame shocking audiences with show-and-tell displays of decaying lungs and rotting livers, telling viewers they should take care of themselves.
His public image took a blow in 2014, however, when he told politicians who were investigating bogus diet product adverts that some of the products promoted on his show lacked “scientific muster”.
Senators at the hearing focused on green coffee bean extract, a dietary supplement Dr Oz touted in 2012 as a “miracle".