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Dr. Oz says he will renounce his Turkish citizenship if elected to Senate

Dr. Mehmet Oz, who is seeking the Republican nomination in Pennsylvania's Senate race, said Wednesday that he would renounce his Turkish citizenship if elected. David McCormick, one of his main GOP rivals, has been pressing Oz on the issue.

"My dual citizenship has become a distraction in this campaign," Oz said in a statement. "I maintained it to care for my ailing mother, but after several weeks of discussions with my family, I'm committing that before I am sworn in as the next U.S. Senator for Pennsylvania I will only be a U.S. citizen."

Before Oz issued his statement, McCormick's campaign held a press call with Alaska Republican Senator Dan Sullivan, who suggested Oz may not have full access to intelligence if he did not renounce his Turkish citizenship.

Dr. Mehmet C. Oz speaks onstage at the 2014 Concordia Summit - Day 1 at Grand Hyatt New York on September 29, 2014, in New York City. Leigh Vogel, Getty Images for Concordia Summi

"To me, it's just inconceivable that you would make a decision that somehow would limit your access to this kind of intelligence that you need to do the job," Sullivan told reporters. "My view is you need full access to all the intel that the different intelligence agencies provide us senators."

When pressed why Turkish citizenship would be an issue, given that the country is a NATO ally, Sullivan said the country isn't part of a group of nations that the U.S. shares more closely held intelligence with. There is no law that says members of Congress cannot be dual citizens. Fox News was first to report that Oz would renounce his citizenship.

In his statement, Oz called McCormick's attacks "bigoted."

"It is a sign of McCormick's desperate campaign that he has resorted to this disgraceful tactic," he said. "It is completely disqualifying behavior for anyone aiming to serve in the United States Senate."

On Tuesday, Oz's campaign denied a report that he would forego certain security clearances in order to keep his dual citizenship. 

"You can have a dual citizenship and full security clearance in Congress," campaign manager Casey Contres tweeted

Following Oz's announcement Wednesday, McCormick indicated that his opponent wasn't going far enough by waiting until he was elected to renounce his dual citizenship.

"Do it now," McCormick tweeted. "Voters can't trust Mehmet Oz. He has lied about his position on abortion, the 2nd Amendment, immigration, masks, and Fauci to name a few. Renounce your Turkish citizenship now. We won't be fooled again."

Oz and McCormick have launched several attacks against each other in a bitter GOP primary. A recent Fox News poll showed McCormick leading Oz 24% to 15%.

Pennsylvania's primary is scheduled for May 17. 

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