PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Dave McCormick, a businessman who recently moved to Pittsburgh from Connecticut, announced on Thursday his candidacy for the seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey.
In an interview seen only on KDKA, political editor Jon Delano asked McCormick about his Pennsylvania roots, which some of his opponents have questioned.
"I am announcing today that I am running for the U.S. Senate, and I am running as a candidate that is battle-tested and Pennsylvania true," McCormick told KDKA on Thursday.
McCormick -- who was born in Washington, Pennsylvania, grew up in Bloomsburg, southwest of Wilkes-Barre, and worked for a time in Pittsburgh -- says he's always been a Pennsylvanian even though he's lived out-of-state since 2005.
Residency has become an issue because fellow Republican candidates Jeff Bartos and Kathy Barnette accuse McCormick, along with Mehmet Oz of New Jersey and Carla Sands of California, of being carpetbaggers, returning to this state just to run for office.
Delano: "Are you moving back to Pittsburgh just to run for the United States Senate?"
McCormick: "Well, you know, I think that makes me laugh in some ways."
"I've got great Pennsylvania cred. I'm a seventh-generation Pennsylvanian. My mom and dad still live there. I've lived more than half my life in Pennsylvania," says McCormick.
McCormick, who just bought a house in Squirrel Hill, does appear to have deeper roots in the state than Oz or Sands, and he insists he's always been a Pennsylvanian.
"I never left Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania has always been in my heart, and sure I was in Connecticut, I was leading a great investment firm there, and I've lived the American dream, been successful. So I'm going to come back to Pennsylvania in service," he says.
WATCH: KDKA's Jon Delano reports
On Jan. 3, McCormick resigned as the CEO of the world's largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, headquartered in Connecticut.
McCormick, a West Point grad and Iraq war veteran, was asked why a highly successful businessman wants to enter politics.
"I think the country is going in the wrong direction, Jon. I really do," he says. "And it really crystallized for me when I watched the debacle in Afghanistan, the humiliation of that, the incompetence associated with that. But it really feeds a broader theme which is I think there is a march of wokeness and weakness that is really taking over our country."
McCormick says, if elected, he will push the America First policies of former President Trump.
Trump had endorsed Sean Parnell before Parnell dropped out and, so far, Trump has not picked a new favorite. McCormick, who ran the world's largest hedge fund in Connecticut, says he lines up with Trump's policies.
"I am someone who has been a job creator. I'm someone who understands economics because I've run businesses, and I am someone who would be in a position to argue very thoughtfully for a set of policies that would support pro-growth, a pro-growth agenda, very consistent with what President Trump's America First agenda was," he says.
Winning Trump's endorsement means not contradicting him when he claims to have won reelection and the state of Pennsylvania in 2020, a state President Biden won by 80,000 votes in 2020, nearly double the number Trump won the state in 2016.
"The majority of Republicans in this state don't believe it was a free and fair election," says McCormick.
Delano: "Do you believe it was a free and fair election?"
McCormick: "Jon, I'll get to that. Let me just finish. Election integrity is a really critical thing, and we do not have confidence in our electoral process, and that needs to be a focus going forward.
"And in terms of the 2020 election, listen, Joe Biden is the president. We need to look forward. I wish he wasn't the president for all the reasons I said, but we need to look forward in terms of 2022 and 2024."
Looking forward also means McCormick will need to defend himself against attacks from fellow Republicans, including an Oz-supporting SuperPAC that accuses McCormick of outsourcing Pittsburgh jobs when he was CEO of a Pittsburgh company called Freemarkets.
"It's not true. It's completely inaccurate," says McCormick.
McCormick says he did eliminate 40 to 50 Pittsburgh jobs, but it was unrelated to their growth overseas.
"It's also true we had a global company that was building and growing in other parts of the world. The jobs that were eliminated in Pittsburgh had nothing to do with jobs in India," says the Republican.
Delano: "You're saying no jobs were ever outsourced from Pittsburgh under your charge when you were at Freemarkets?"
McCormick: "That's correct."
McCormick notes that Republicans attacking each other with misrepresentations and lies has become all too common in politics these days, and he says he hopes "to focus on a positive, happy warrior campaign."
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