Top GOP Senate recruit Dave McCormick underscores importance of American strength in Middle East

In JI interview, McCormick says Israel’s war against Hamas is a battle between good and evil after visiting Kfar Aza

Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dave McCormick and his wife, Dina Powell McCormick, in Kfar Aza

In a show of solidarity with Israel, GOP Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dave McCormick spent the first week of the new year in the Jewish state, meeting with the country’s military leaders, government officials and families of hostages — while spending a day touring the remains of Kfar Aza, one of the kibbutzim hit hardest during the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack.

“You can read about these things, but when you see it yourself, it’s just much more meaningful. It has reinforced my belief of the need to have solidarity with Israel and the people of Israel, but also to make clear the difference between right versus wrong,” McCormick said in an interview from Tel Aviv with Jewish Insider

McCormick added that he watched the 47-minute video compiled by the Israeli Defense Forces documenting the Hamas atrocities on Oct. 7:  “The evilness of what occurred here and the need to have a united front against that evil — that’s the lesson. Lesson two: The brutality and heinous nature of Hamas is even more extreme than I could have imagined… It’s about fighting back against an ideology and a terrorist threat that goes far beyond just Israel.”

The Pennsylvania Republican said that he endorsed Israel’s policy of seeking the eradication of Hamas from the Gaza Strip, saying he fully backs the country’s military strategy. “You cannot live that close to an enemy threat that is genocidal like Hamas. The eradication of Hamas is not negotiable. The war has to be conducted in a way the Israelis best determine,” McCormick said.

McCormick gave a mixed review of President Joe Biden’s Middle East policy, acknowledging he’s been a supporter of Israel (“We need to stand with Israel, and I think President Biden, the things he said, has been consistent with that”) but sharply criticized the administration’s lack of deterrence against growing Iranian threats. 

“What we’re seeing is the failure of deterrence. We’re seeing the consequence of weakness under the Biden administration,” McCormick said. “The Obama Iran deal followed by the Biden approach to Iran is at the heart of [the problem] because it’s given Iran the ability to invest and underwrite terrorist groups across the Middle East that have both regional and global ambitions.”

In a sign that he’s taking a more hawkish posture than other GOP Senate candidates, McCormick attributed growing chaos in the world to American enemies perceiving Biden’s weakness, stemming from the president’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan. “You’ve got the debacle in terms of the pullout in Afghanistan, you’ve got the mishandling of Ukraine. You’ve got a president who’s very shaky in his response to direct or indirect threats to America,” McCormick said.

During the trip, McCormick met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana. McCormick’s wife, Dina Powell McCormick, former deputy national security adviser in the Trump administration, also joined the trip.

McCormick, a graduate of Princeton University, also weighed in on the resignation of Harvard President Claudine Gay this week, noting that he was one of the first political figures calling for the ouster of former University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill, who resigned just days after a disastrous congressional hearing on campus antisemitism.  

McCormick suggested that if elected, he would support legislation to roll back the tax-exempt status of university endowments, and conditioning federal research dollars to colleges. He also proposed colleges reform their tenure process. “I’m not trying to jam conservatism down people’s throats, I’m trying to create universities that are at their core, a place where people can express themselves and find their way to ideas that are truly the best ideas,” McCormick said.

McCormick is running in this year’s Senate race against Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), a race that is shaping up to be one of the most competitive battlegrounds that could determine party control of the upper chamber. The race is expected to be one of the most expensive in the country.

McCormick, who unsuccessfully ran for the seat Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) now holds, is now offering qualified praise for the junior senator, who has emerged as one of the most outspoken Democratic supporters of Israel in Congress. He contrasted Fetterman’s vocal support of Israel against Casey, who he argued hasn’t shown the same degree of “moral clarity.”

He also credited Fetterman for breaking with his party on border security and calling out Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) for corruption. “He’s embraced positions that are great and consistent with my position,” McCormick said of Fetterman.

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