GOP Senate candidate who blamed Trump for Jan. 6 before running now defends him

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Republican Dave McCormick's credibility and consistency have been a repeated issue in the Pennsylvania Senate primary.

In the immediate aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol insurrection, Connecticut-based hedge fund multimillionaire Dave McCormick criticized then-President Donald Trump for his role in provoking the deadly attacks. But now that he's running as a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, McCormick has changed his tune on Trump's role in the attack.

In January 2021, McCormick said he believed Trump "has some responsibility, a lot of responsibility" for the violent U.S. Capitol riots that left five people dead, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. Four police officers who were at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, committed suicide in the months following the attack.

But since launching his Senate campaign, McCormick has completely flip-flopped on the issue of whether he believes Trump is responsible for inciting the attack. "I don't think we should hold President Trump accountable for January 6th," McCormick said on a podcast last month.

On Jan. 29, 2021, McCormick appeared at an economic summit hosted by Bloomberg. He was asked how the country could move forward after thousands of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building and tried to overturn President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.

After noting that it was important to address the "frustrations and anxieties" of Trump's supporters, McCormick said his party must move away from Trump's politics of division:

I think what we have to not embrace is the divisiveness that’s characterized, you know, the last four years and the polarization, and I think the president has some responsibility, a lot of responsibility for that, and I think that, you know, this last dark chapter on the Capitol will be, history will look very unfavorably on that and all that, all the people that were involved in that.

McCormick made similar comments on the day of the attack, telling Institutional Investor it was "seditious and an attack on our most dearly held national principles."

"Ever since George Washington stepped aside in 1797, the peaceful transfer of power has been the hallmark of our republic and a symbol of our freedom under the law," he said at the time.

Since jumping into the GOP primary to succeed retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), however, McCormick has quickly evolved into a Trump apologist.

Asked in March about his past criticism of Trump, he told WPHT AM radio host Dom Giordano, "I'm a big fan of what he did for our country and what I think he might still continue to do for our country. In the aftermath of January 6th, I made a comment which essentially I was trying to say that I wish he would have intervened a little sooner to encourage things to calm down at the Capitol."

Asked about the same topic last month on the PoliticsPA Podcast, McCormick backtracked even more. He said that most of the Jan. 6 attendees were just "people participating in a peaceful protest," and said that those who "turned violent should be prosecuted within due process of the law." He then falsely equated Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election results with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) giving a speech in 2017:

And in terms of President Trump, listen, I don't think we should hold President Trump accountable for January 6th, just like the violence on January 6th. I think those individuals are responsible for that. Just like when Bernie Sanders gave a speech on the floor of the Senate which was extremely intense and aggressive about Republicans and the next day there was the terrible shooting of Steve Scalise on the softball field. We shouldn't hold Bernie Sanders accountable.

But Sanders didn't even mention Republicans in his Senate floor speech the day before the June 14, 2017, shooting in Alexandria, Virginia, that left Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) injured.

This is not the first time McCormick's dishonesty and inconsistency have been exposed.

On multiple occasions, McCormick falsely told voters that he was an "Army ranger," even though he did not earn the title. According to the U.S. Army's Special Operations Command, only those who have served in the 75th Ranger Regiment are entitled to call themselves U.S. Army Rangers — which his campaign acknowledged he did not do.

In January, McCormick told a Pittsburgh radio station that his businesses never outsourced jobs to any country. But in a 2005 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review interview, he reportedly bragged that his experiences with helping to move jobs offshore as a corporate CEO would be an asset to his work as then-President George W. Bush's undersecretary of commerce for export administration.

McCormick's campaign has focused on "reducing crime" and "standing up for American values," but he has touted the endorsement of Sean Parnell — a former rival in the campaign. Parnell dropped out of the Senate primary when a judge denied his request to gain custody of his three children after his estranged wife accused him of verbal and physical abuse. Butler County Senior Judge James Arner wrote in his decision that Parnell "did commit some acts of abuse in the past." Parnell called those claims "lies."

McCormick, who took in at least $70 million in discretionary awards between 2010 and 2013 from an investment management firm he ran, said in April that he supports keeping the federal minimum wage at just $7.25 an hour — where it has been stuck since 2009. Had he been earning that wage at a 40-hour-per-week full-time job, it would have taken him more than 4,641 years to earn that amount.

McCormick was once openly a Trump critic. "I wasn't particularly involved with the Trump camp — I wasn't a Trump supporter,” he said in 2017. As a Senate candidate, however, he has tried to reframe himself as a Trump Republican. An April 13 campaign ad used Trump's "America First" and "Keep America Great" slogans, and showed him speaking in front of supporters with large Trump banners.

Trump has endorsed television personality Mehmet Oz in the Pennsylvania GOP Senate primary and has argued that being a celebrity doctor was a sufficient qualification to be a U.S. senator. "You know when you're in television for 18 years, that's like a poll. That means people like you," Trump said.

McCormick has attacked Oz as a "phony" and accused him in a recent debate of having "flip-flopped on every major issue we're talking about in this campaign."

A Franklin & Marshall College poll, released Thursday, found Oz leading the Republican primary race with 18% support, McCormick in second with 16%, and unsuccessful 2020 House candidate Kathy Barnette in third with 12%.

The same survey found Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman leading Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA), 53% to 14% for the Democratic nomination.

Political analysts consider the general election likely to be a toss-up in a state carried narrowly by Biden in 2020.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.