Dr. Oz and McCormick trade shots over China as Pennsylvania GOP Senate battle fires up

McCormick and Dr. Oz are two of the leading Republican contenders in the crucial Senate race in battleground Pennsylvania

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As former hedge fund executive David McCormick jumped into the increasingly crowded and combustible Republican Senate primary in Pennsylvania, his former hedge fund’s considerable investments in China instantly came under scrutiny from one of his top rivals.

McCormick, a West Point graduate, Gulf War combat veteran and former Treasury Department official in former President George W. Bush's administration, steered the hedge fund behemoth Bridgewater Associates from 2017 through the end of last year. And during his tenure as CEO, the hedge fund made investments in China.

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McCormick, in an opinion piece on FoxBusiness.com as he launched his campaign last Thursday, vowed that if elected "I will do everything in my power to end our dependence on China, protect our communities and our jobs, counter their attempts to reshape the world in their authoritarian image, and ensure America remains the world’s unrivaled military and economic superpower."

But ahead of his announcement, American Leadership Action, a super PAC supporting well-known celebrity physician Mehmet Oz,  fired up ads claiming "David McCormick, he’s a friend — of China, with a long record of selling us out." 

And minutes after McCormick's entry into the race, Oz campaign manager Casey Contres charged that "Beijing’s favorite candidate David McCormick’s deep ties to the Chinese Communist Party aren’t just problematic, they are dangerous."

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Pointing to his tenure in the Bush Administration, McCormick touted last week during an interview on Fox Business’ "Mornings with Maria" that "I’ve negotiated with the Chinese as a government official. I had a reputation for being a very tough-minded negotiator to the point that the Chinese were pushing back to the president on the policies I was making under the Bush administration."

"If you think about the kind of people we need, we need people that actually understand and can put forward a tough-minded set of polices with China and that’s what I’ll do," he argued.

In an interview a couple of hours later with Fox News Digital, McCormick took direct aim at Oz, the cardiac surgeon and author who until the launch of his Senate campaign late last year was host of TV’s popular "Dr. Oz Show."

"I’ve been in the race for 12 hours, and they’re already telling lies about me and Mehmet Oz is telling lies about me. He’s pretending to be an outsider, but I can’t think of a more DC insider play than lying to benefit yourself," McCormick charged.

WATCH DAVID MCCORMICK'S FOX BUSINESS INTERVIEW 

The Oz campaign, responding to McCormick’s fiery comments, noted a November Wall Street Journal report that Bridgewater Associates – while McCormick was  still CEO - raised the equivalent of $1.25 billion for its third Chinese investment fund, boosting the hedge fund firm "into the ranks of the biggest foreign managers of private funds" in China. 

Spotlighting the report, Oz campaign spokesperson Brittany Yanick charged that "McCormick outsources jobs, brags about it, and sent China hundreds of millions of dollars after they sent us the Wuhan flu. The Chinese love David McCormick’s candidacy, because he’s always putting their economy ahead of ours."

Asked about the November investments, McCormick acknowledged in the Fox Business interview that "more recently Bridgewater has done business with China, but I have been a person throughout my business has been very focused on negotiating with the Chinese."

And the McCormick campaign noted that Bridgewater has investments all over the world, with less than two percent of the firm's revenues coming from China.

Talk of taking a muscular approach to U.S.-Chinese relations and curbing Beijing’s influence is a message most Republican voters want to hear, and many GOP candidates running in the 2022 cycle are spotlighting the issue. 

McCormick and Oz are two among many GOP candidates who would gladly welcome an endorsement by former President Donald Trump – who remains very popular with Republican voters as he continues to play a kingmaker’s role in party politics and flirts with a 2024 White House run. And they've spotlighted their support for the former president’s America First policies, which included a confrontational stance against China.

McCormick and Oz are two of the top candidates in a crowded field of Republican contenders aiming to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Pat Toomey in a race that could decide whether the Republicans win back the Senate majority in November’s midterm elections.

Among the other leading GOP candidates are a real estate developer, philanthropist, and the 2018 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, Jeff Bartos; Carla Sands, a real estate executive and major Republican donor who served as ambassador to Denmark under Trump; and veteran and conservative political commentator Kathy Barnette.

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The candidate Trump had endorsed in the Pennsylvania GOP primary race, Sean Parnell, ended his bid in November immediately after he lost a bitter fight for custody of his three children to his estranged wife, who in court testimony had accused Parnell of abuse. Trump has indicated he’ll weigh in again in the crucial Senate race. And as first reported by Fox News late last week, Parnell, an Army veteran who saw combat in the Afghanistan War, endorsed McCormick https://www.foxnews.com/politics/pa-gop-senate-battle-former-trump-backed-candidate-sean-parnell-endorses-dave-mccormick

Both McCormick and Oz have connections to Trump, with former Trump White House and presidential campaign officials advising both candidates. McCormick has another connection - his wife, Dina Powell McCormick, served as deputy national security adviser in the Trump administration.

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But past comments critical of Trump and his "America First" policies – some as recent as a year ago – could come back to haunt McCormick. 

Asked about some of his criticism, McCormick told Fox News " I’m going to promote an American First policy agenda because I think President Trump had us on the right path."