NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
Pennsylvania’s leading Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate battled a candidate who wasn’t there at a forum on Saturday.
Famed doctor-turned-Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz and several others at the conservative Pennsylvania Leadership Conference forum on Saturday didn’t argue, but many took turns criticizing Dave McCormick about his wealth and his alleged ties to China.
Candidate George Bochetto, a Philadelphia attorney, referred to McCormick as someone “who didn’t think his schedule was big enough to come and speak to the most important group in Pennsylvania there is.”
“And let me tell you this: I think it was because he knew the subject of China was going to come back,” Bochetto added, before a moderator reminded him that the participants had stopped. agreement not to attack other candidates.
For months, McCormick has been criticized by other candidates in the race for making substantial investments in China while running the Blackwater Associates hedge fund from 2017 to 2021. McCormick has taken a hawkish stance toward China throughout along his campaign – promising to end American dependency. on China and touting his tough line against the country as a federal official under former President George W. Bush — but the other contenders for the Senate race have not diminished their attacks on the issue.
Moments after Bochetto’s comment, Jeff Bartos sarcastically commented that he thought attacking McCormick was a bit harsh. “Traffic to get from Connecticut to Harrisburg on a weekend is terrible,” Bochetto joked, prompting laughter from the audience and forum attendees. McCormick grew up in Pennsylvania, but for the past few years has lived in Connecticut, where Bridgewater was based, before recently buying a house in the Pittsburgh area.
FORMER HEDGE FUND DIRECTOR MCCORMICK JUMPS INTO COMUSTIBLE SENATE PRIMARY
McCormick was absent from the forum for planning reasons, his campaign told Fox News, and had pledged to host an event at a volunteer firefighters and other events.
As the leading contenders in the Senate race, McCormick and famed Doctor Oz have been on the offensive against each other for months, with China being one of the key issues. A Fox News poll in March found 24% of voters favored McCormick over Oz at 15%, with other candidates trailing behind.
PENNSYLVANIA GOP SENATE PRIMARY: DR. OZ, DAVID MCCORMICK COMMERCIAL FIRE ON THE DIVIDE
At Saturday’s forum, Oz took the opportunity to accuse McCormick of being part of the decline of the US economy and speculated that his real reason for skipping the forum was to avoid tough questions about China. .
“The reason Beijing Dave isn’t here is because he built China’s largest hedge fund for over $1 billion,” Oz said. “Why? Because they could make more money there, they thought, than here. Our Commonwealth has lost more jobs than any other American state, mostly because they’ve been outsourced to the foreign. Much, by the way, by business leaders – Beijing Dave play a role.”
McCormick’s campaign spokesman Jess Szymanski said it was totally untrue for the candidate to avoid discussing China.
“From the battlefield to the boardroom, Dave has faced China his entire life and is the only candidate with real experience facing the Chinese Communist Party,” Szymanski said.
“Dave’s track record of holding China accountable – both in government and in business – will make him one of the strongest senators in the entire Senate when it comes to holding China accountable and underscores his commitment to strong America-first policies that will bring jobs and economic growth back to Pennsylvania.”
All of the candidates at the forum on Saturday voiced support for America’s First policies consistent with those of former President Donald Trump, and each said they would welcome his endorsement. However, candidate Sean Gale, after declaring that Trump was the best president this country has ever had and that he welcomed his endorsement, said that if he was advising Trump he would say “stop endorsing candidates . It does not work”.
Trump has yet to endorse a candidate for the Pennsylvania Senate seat, since his first choice for the seat, Sean Parnell, Parnell dropped out of the race last year amid a custody battle with his ex-wife . Parnell endorsed McCormick, calling him “the America First candidate in this race” because of his military service and ties to Pittsburgh manufacturing.
The favorite among Pennsylvania Leadership Conference attendees was Kathy Barnette, the only black candidate in the race, who won the straw poll by huge margins. She did a subtle wealth dig, without naming McCormick or anyone, stressing the importance of choosing a persuasive candidate.
“The Democrats are going to come out with guns. I don’t care how much money you have, do I? We keep picking the richest people in the room – y’all know that didn’t matter. doesn’t matter,” Barnette said. . “Or we’ll say, ‘Madam President Hillary Clinton.’ We need people who will fight for us.”