U.S. Senate candidate argues foreign policy bona fides, Trump-like experience

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

In defense of his own record, U.S. Senate candidate Dave McCormick compared himself to former President Donald Trump during a visit to York County on Monday.

At issue: the former hedge fund manager's ties to China.

"I've done business around the world in 20 countries. China was one of them," McCormick said during an appearance before about 30 attendees at York's Round the Clock Diner. "Just like President Trump did business in Russia and China, and that made him a better president, it's going to make me a better senator."

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McCormick, who grew up in Columbia County, served as an Army Ranger during the first Gulf War and, during the administration of President George W. Bush, as Treasury undersecretary for international affairs. In that latter capacity, he once argued that when China succeeds, so does the United States — a statement his opponents have used against him.

As recently as November of last year, hedge fund Bridgewater Associates raised approximately $1.25 billion in China, according to the Wall Street Journal. McCormick is president and CEO of the hedge fund, where he has worked since 2009.

U.S. Senate candidate Dave McCormick speaks to prospective supporters Monday at York's Round the Clock Diner.

McCormick and fellow Republican candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz have attacked each other on China ties since McCormick entered the race in January. McCormick has also been attacked by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party for his past ties with China.

On Monday, McCormick portrayed himself as a hard-line conservative. He promised to close the U.S. borders, defend the Second Amendment, fix inflation and fight back against China.

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"I will fight on Day One to reduce our dependencies on China, continue the fair trade policies that Trump put in place, hold China accountable for COVID and fentanyl and ultimately make sure our companies with a review process aren't investing in China that supports the military modernization," he said.

McCormick also touted his endorsements, including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee and former CIA Director and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The event drew a number of local GOP figureheads, many of whom said they came to evaluate — but not necessarily endorse — McCormick. That included state Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, and York County GOP Chairman Jeff Piccola.

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Another attendee, Hanover resident and GOP county committeeman Chris Smith, asked the candidate what Republicans could do with the majority in the Senate to reverse President Joe Biden's policies.

In response, McCormick said he would work to oust Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, reverse Biden's energy policies and reduce fiscal spending. That would help cut inflation, he argued.

Afterward, Smith said he simply wanted to hear what McCormick had to say.

"I don't have my mind made up yet because I'm still listening to all sides," he said.

Round the Clock Diner welcomed U.S. Senate candidate Dave McCormick Monday.

Another attendee said he'd come to support McCormick after being impressed with him at another event.

"This man's a fighter; he's not going to take any crap from the other politicians," said Gary Reihart, of Dillsburg. "I am just so impressed with him." 

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McCormick faces a crowded GOP Senate primary field on May 17 that includes Oz, Fox News commentator Kathy Barnette, businessman Jeff Bartos, former state Boxing Commissioner George Bochetto, attorney Sean Gale and former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands.

On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta and Alex Khalil, a borough councilor from Montgomery County, are running for their party's nomination.

— Reach Matt Enright via email at menright@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.