McCormick has built a wait campaign with a who’s who of Trump world agents, distancing himself from his former company’s China ties, while his allies have turned to Trump-friendly media. The question is whether that will be convincing enough in a state where Trump still has a firm grip on the GOP base.
“He’s a little more global than I’d like,” said Gloria Lee Snover, Northampton County’s Republican Party leader. “But a lot of former Trump employees get along with him and think he’s a great candidate. I love his life story – two parents were teachers, he grew up on a Christmas tree farm and did the hard work – I like that. But I’m still checking. “
McCormick, an early Jeb Bush supporter, has not always been deferential to Trump.
“I wasn’t particularly involved in the Trump camp – I wasn’t a Trump supporter,” he said at an event at Duke University in 2017, adding that he still wanted every candidate who won – Trump or Hillary Clinton – is successful.
That’s not the only remark that could bite him in the primary: after the attack on the Capitol last January, McCormick said at a Bloomberg summit that Trump had “a great responsibility” for “polarization” and “division”. “The past four years. In the same interview, he complimented President Joe Biden saying he really appreciated Biden’s tone of unifying the country and called the news of some of Biden’s early appointments “encouraging.”
McCormick’s previous remarks could jeopardize his chances of getting important endorsement from Trump.
Last month Trump saw the January 2021 clip in which McCormick reprimanded Trump’s rhetoric of someone close to the former president. Trump also reviewed a document outlining other McCormick comments at the time, though it is unclear who made the list and what was on it.
The source said Trump didn’t have a strong reaction to learning of McCormick’s earlier statements. But unlike other Republicans who criticized Trump during the 2016 election, some of McCormick’s criticisms are more timely about what could work against him.
“The younger your insults, the more they weigh,” the former president told the Trump-affiliated source. “So it’s not great to be David McCormick today.”
McCormick’s allies point to an invaluable asset in warding off RINO attacks: his personal connections with Trumpworld. McCormick’s wife, Dina Powell McCormick, was Trump’s deputy national security adviser. Before he officially starts his campaign, a McCormick TV spot will be broadcast briefly introducing Powell McCormick.
“As a private person, you may say and make various comments that may not be as thoughtful … but I don’t think anyone like Dave McCormick, and I’ve known him for a while, would consider approving Hillary Clinton’s policy toward Donald Trump’s policy vote, “said Rep. Dan Meuser (R-Pa.), a McCormick supporter. “And you know very well that his wife, Dina Powell McCormick, was in the Trump administration and was a very strong supporter and ally of the president’s agenda.”
When asked about McCormick’s previous comments, Jess Szymanski, a spokesman for his exploratory committee, said he would work to restore Trump’s agenda, “which made America great” if he ran for the Senate. She also said McCormick voted for Trump in the 2016 primaries as well as the 2016 and 2020 general elections.
“Dave McCormick is a distinguished combat veteran who has put America first and will continue to uphold those values should he run for the Senate,” she said of the private sector, supporting President Trump’s strong immigration and foreign policy towards China. “
McCormick, a Gulf War veteran and former treasurer in the George W. Bush administration, until recently ran the hedge fund Bridgewater Associates. He was recruited to the race by Republicans in Pennsylvania and Washington who were concerned for the condition of the peloton in one of the nation’s premier Senate races that year.
Army veteran Sean Parnell suspended his main campaign in November after losing custody of his children on domestic violence allegations.
Supporters see McCormick as a candidate who can thread the voting needle in Pennsylvania, a swing state that narrowly voted for Trump in 2016 and narrowly rejected him four years later.
McCormick set up an exploratory committee in December and has already spent nearly $ 2.3 million on TV advertising, according to ad tracking firm AdImpact. Prominent doctor and television host Mehmet Oz, real estate developer Jeff Bartos, former ambassador Carla Sands and political commentator Kathy Barnette are also running for the vacant seat of GOP Sen. Pat Toomey.
Hope Hicks and Stephen Miller, Trump White House alums, are advisors to the McCormick Exploratory Committee. Former Trump campaign advisor David Urban and former Trump attorney Jim Schultz at the White House are also helping to get his campaign off the ground. Other unofficial Trump pedigree advisors include Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Tony Sayegh, and Larry Kudlow, such a person close to McCormick.
In addition to the former Trump employees on his payroll, McCormick notes that he has been interviewed for two top positions in the Trump administration: Treasury Secretary and Assistant Secretary of Defense. (He was offered the defense job but declined.) McCormick has also moved to forestall attacks on him relating to China. It was known at the time that he was considering a run.
But that doesn’t stop Oz’s allies from persecuting McCormick about his past.
“It’s almost insurmountable,” said Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.), A supporter of Oz, referring to McCormick’s previous comments on Trump, as well as business philosophies that the congressman believed to contradict Trump’s “America First “-Agenda stood. Noting that McCormick must surpass the star power of Oz, he added that “it’s Santa Claus, Coca-Cola and Dr. Oz in many American households”.
Oz himself has potential primary vulnerabilities as he defended abortion rights and red flag gun laws before running for the Senate and reversing course.
Speaking at the 2017 Duke University event, McCormick said America First economic policies could “potentially” undermine the country’s ability to build multilateral coalitions. In March, McCormick co-authored a paper for the American Enterprise Institute urging policy makers to do more to attract skilled immigrants. In a 2019 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story, McCormick said populism led to “political extremes” that made it difficult to move the country and economy forward.
In the same interview, McCormick declined to say whether he supported Trump-imposed tariffs, pointing out the importance of properly “managing” US relations with China.
“You just don’t get going with anti-Trump comments,” said Reschenthaler. “I can’t even imagine anyone who was successful. It’s a political non-runner within the Republic primary. “
Trump has met with both Oz and McCormick, has friends working with both campaigns, and “is determined to stay out for the time being,” the Trump source said. The former president’s stance on the controversial primaries could change over time, though the departure of Parnell – the original candidate Trump supported in the Pennsylvania race – is still fresh.
Oz and Trump have been personal friends for years, and while Oz hasn’t hired an extensive team of Trump alumni, he does have his own advocates who talk him down with the former president. In addition to Oz’s longtime friend and Fox News host Sean Hannity – who often has Oz on his show – casino mogul Steve Wynn and former Trump Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross are also running Oz’s campaign against Trump, according to a source familiar with the Oz campaign known.
District party leader Snover said she was choosing between backing McCormick and Sands. On a recent phone call, she said she asked McCormick about his previous positions on trade and other issues.
If Trump again endorses a candidate in the race, said Snover, that would help her narrow it down: “That would be a factor, but not the only determining factor.”