How Representative David McCormick is trying to change MAGA

By any conventional measure, David McCormick’s pedigree is impressive.

Champion wrestler. Graduated from West Point. Commando. Ph.D. from Princeton. Technology director. Treasury official in the George W. Bush administration.

One proof that Pennsylvania’s Senate candidacy is not guaranteed: the MAGA Champion.

Like Republican candidates across the country, McCormick has worked hard to become a Trump-style candidate, hoping that he can win enough supporters to support the former president. to win the nomination in a crowded primary.

But this MAGA makeup is not easy. McCormick says he’s a fan of Donald Trump. But he also has a record breaking with the former president, and holds positions at odds with the Republican establishment. And while he has close ties to the state — he grew up in Bloomsburg, a town of about 15,000 people along the Susquehanna River — McCormick’s work for a hedge fund has close ties to China. Quoc made it difficult for him to turn into a populist. .

In interviews, McCormick has argued that His experience of China is an assetand his campaign disputes the view that he has holes with the Trump base.

“Dave is the only right candidate, an America First who, if elected, will work every day to restore the pro-growth policies that President Trump has implemented, including getting our economy going. in the right direction, stand firm against China, restore American power on the world stage, and secure our borders,” said Jess Szymanski, McCormick campaign spokesman.

Until recently, McCormick was the CEO of Bridgewater Associates, a hedge fund with a stone and glass headquarters located on a 22-acre wooded campus in Westport, Conn. It’s a world away from Pennsylvania cities like Scranton, McKeesport and Aliquippa, which have been so heavily impacted by the kinds of changes in global trade that Bridgewater traders and analysts seek to make money. everyday.

McCormick is married to Dina Powell, a former Trump administration official who now works at Goldman Sachs. The couple warned their friends that McCormick plans to offer Trump-like views on campaigning – what they describe simply as the cost of running in a Republican primary. right now, according to two of his business associates from Wall Street, who asked. unnamed discuss private chats.

So far, McCormick has a lot of work to do, according to longtime Trump associates.

Sam Nunberg, a former Trump political adviser, said: “He has no looks. “He hasn’t talked down yet.”

McCormick may not want to completely imitate Trump. In Pennsylvania, where President Biden won 1.2 percentage points, he might be better off running in what Christopher Nicholas, a Republican consultant who is neutral on the race, calls the “lane lane.” adjacent to Trump”.

McCormick’s bid could test how close a candidate is to Trump to get in the lane adjacent to Trump.

A former Democrat, McCormick has made many comments on world affairs, and they have not always been very MAGA.

In 2016, in a Speech at the West Point Society of New York, he criticized “the push of some candidates to close our doors and leave the world to fend for themselves.” In 2017, he described Trump aides as having “No sense of how the world works.”

In one Op-ed in 2018 on The Washington Posthe supported Amy McGrath, a Democrat who would later challenge Senator Mitch McConnell, in her race against Representative Andy Barr, Republican of Kentucky.

More recently, McCormick called the January 6 riots at the Capitol “horrific” and “a dark chapter in American history.”

What would an aspiring Republican senator do?

McCormick’s first assignment was to arrange for Trump administration aides to secure him, including Hope Hicks, Stephen Miller and Cliff Sims, all of whom are serving as campaign advisers. David Urban, a West Point alum who led Trump’s Pennsylvania campaign in 2016, is also supporting him. Matthew Pottinger, a China hawk and Trump’s deputy national security adviser, endorsed him.

Next, he repositioned himself in Trump-friendly media such as Fox News and Judge Washington.

In one Interview with Fox News host Mark LevinMcCormick says he’s fighting the “weakness and awakening you see across the country.” He noted that he drove a Ford F-150 pickup truck around Pennsylvania to meet with voters. And even though his father is a college president, he will certainly refer to the “family farm” he currently owns.

Breitbart, the right-wing website founded by Steve Bannon, a former Trump aide, has covered McCormick particularly favorably. There’s a story citing “sources close to” McCormick running under the headline: “Exclusive -“Potential Populism”: CEO of World’s Largest Hedge Fund Plans to Enter Full MAGA in Pennsylvania Senate Bid.” One interview with McCormick quoted him calling for a new strategy to confront China. Another story included pictures of McCormick walking along the US-Mexico border.

“We need to go back to the Trump policies that worked,” McCormick said in the story. “Finishing the border wall is the backbone of any serious plan.”

McCormick has made comments critical of China’s commercial practices for years, particularly its intellectual property theft, the allies noted. As a Treasury official, he called for tighter controls on US exports of technology that could be used for military purposes.

But other comments in the past about the US-China relationship are now being excavated by reporters and weaponized by its opponents.

“When China succeeds, America succeeds,” McCormick wrote in one 2007 paper published in economic journals. “The United States must also avoid the whistleblower song of protectionism.”

But McCormick’s bigger problem may be Bridgewater’s vast operations in China. Ray Dalio, the hedge fund founder, has been described as “enchanted” by the country – so much so that he modeled some of Bridgewater’s internal governance structures on “aspects of ideology”. Chinese politics”, according to a Wall Street Journal account.

Before leaving Bridgewater last year, McCormick told staff at a conference call that he disagreed with Dalio’s comparison of China’s human rights record to the human rights record of a “strict parent.” – a good story quickly narrated by Bloomberg. Then he gave his own point of view in a op-ed for FoxNews.comwrote that it was “a while ago that the leaders of the United States confronted the Chinese Communist Party head-on.”

That wasn’t enough to stop his opponent. The campaign of Mehmet Oz, one of his main opponents in the Senate, better known as Dr. Oz, aired an advertisement accused him of “selling us out” as a Wall Street executive and criticized his ties to China; The Pennsylvania Democrat has set up a website, BlessbyChina.comwith a selectively clipped highlight reel of his remarks over the years.

Republicans said there were two confirmations that could help McCormick combat these attacks.

One of those will come from Trump, who does not support a current candidate. The other is by Fox News host Tucker Carlson, whose innovation from his own tethered conservative to fiery populist has made him one of the biggest voices in the world. the strongest of the right.

As Nunberg, a former Trump adviser, put it, “All you need is a segment of Tucker.”

Kate Kelly contribution report.

An unknown candidate happens to share the name of a famous politician who decides to run for office. That’s the plot of the 1992 Eddie Murphy comedy “Striking Gentleman” – and a small plotline in next week’s Texas primaries.

Republicans voting for Texas governor on Tuesday will find Rick Perry on their ballot. Not a three-term former governor and energy secretary in the Trump administration. It’s another Rick Perry, who is campaigning as a Texan conservative and fifth-generation Christian from Parker County in central north Texas. He emailed us praising us for “persevering” following him, but he declined to be interviewed. Attempts to reach the former governor were unsuccessful.

In politics, names are trademarks: Roosevelt, Kennedy, Clinton. For George P. Bush, whose uncle and grandfather were both presidents, his famous name is both a blessing and a curse when he ran for state attorney general.

“I’m the first to admit that having a famous name at least gives me exposure that perhaps if I didn’t have a famous name I wouldn’t have,” Robert Kennedy, Jr. ., an Alabama Democrat who won. Preliminary 2018 for Congress, but lost in the general election. Kennedy is not related to the Kennedy family in Massachusetts. He was named after his father, who was from Philadelphia.

Bob Stump was a political legend in Arizona’s Western Valley who died in 2003 shortly after serving more than 25 years in Congress. When another Bob Stump – whose real legal name is Christopher Robert Stump – running for Congress in 2018, it didn’t go well with the congressman’s widow. In a letter to local news outlets, she accused the candidate of “misleading voters.”

That prompted candidate Bob Stump’s mother to jump in with a letter of her own, detailed love history of her family name. Her Bob Stump lost the Republican primaries and did not respond to our request to talk about his experience.

Editor’s note: David Farenthold, an investigative reporter for The Times, needs your help. Learn more here.

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