Dave McCormick says Casey trying to have it ‘both ways’ on Summer Lee ‘antisemitism’

By David Sivak
Washington Examiner
May 8, 2024

Republican Dave McCormick bashed Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), his Democratic opponent in Pennsylvania’s Senate race, for walking a political tightrope on Rep. Summer Lee (D-PA), an outspoken critic of Israel whose campaign he supported this cycle. 

Casey, running for a fourth term in the fall, has attempted to create daylight between himself and Lee, one of the first congressional Democrats to call for a ceasefire in Gaza. In April, he said it was “clear” the two do not agree on “every issue” but maintained his support. 

He stumped for her 2022 campaign and agreed last year to sit on the host committee for her reelection. She is backed by House Democratic leadership but is known for her alignment with the progressive “Squad” in Congress.

Casey, a pro-Israel Democrat, has resisted Democratic calls for a ceasefire, putting the two at odds over one of the most politically divisive matters facing the country. He also rejects conditioning aid to Israel as the civilian death toll rises in its battle against Hamas. 

But McCormick said it was not enough to disagree with Lee. He called her rhetoric antisemitic and called on Casey to revoke his support as the “only morally right thing to do.”

“You cannot say, as Sen. Casey does, that on one hand, you’re against antisemitism, it’s intolerable, on the other hand, endorse Summer Lee, who is a member of the ‘Squad’ and speaks regularly with antisemitic slurs,” McCormick told the Washington Examiner in a Tuesday interview. 

“And so, you’ve got to be clear on this, and this is a moment where I’m sad to say that too many of our leaders, including Sen. Casey, are just not being clear,” he added.

Lee, who handily won her primary last month despite the issue engulfing her campaign, called the idea that antisemitism is driving every criticism of Israel “dangerous” but has courted controversy with some of her views. She was one of 10 lawmakers to vote against a House resolution expressing solidarity with Israel in the weeks following Hamas’s invasion on Oct. 7. 

She drew more unwanted attention in February, backing out of a banquet featuring speakers with a history of antisemitic comments.

Lee’s office did not respond to a request for comment but has repeatedly condemned antisemitism. The Casey campaign declined to comment beyond pointing to his April remarks when asked about the endorsement. 

McCormick, like Republicans nationally, has attempted to use the war in Gaza to drive a wedge between Casey and Pennsylvania voters in one of the most competitive Senate races of the 2024 cycle.

The Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas are home to large Jewish populations, making the issue all the more salient heading into November. But McCormick’s comments were part of a larger critique of what he called Casey’s “soft thinking” on Israel and every other topic plaguing Democrats. 

“You can’t have it both ways on an open border. What’s happening now is destroying our country. You can’t have it both ways on inflation, which is hurting working families,” McCormick said. “You’ve got to stand up with strong, clear leadership. And that’s what this election is about, in my opinion.” 

“That’s the contrast that I think is very clear between myself and Sen. Casey, and this issue is just one such example,” he added. 

The Democrats have lobbed their own attacks at McCormick. Over the coming months, they will attempt to define him as a wealthy out-of-stater. McCormick was born and raised in the Pittsburgh area but, until 2022, ran a large hedge fund in Connecticut.

As a challenger, McCormick, a West Point graduate and former Bush administration official, is betting he can defeat Casey on the strength of his anti-Washington messaging as well. Casey, the son of political heavyweight and former Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey Sr., has served three terms in the Senate and before that as a statewide elected official.