PA Senate candidate McCormick recounts IDF visit, deems Israel-Hamas war ‘test’ for American leadership

Dave McCormick, a Republican candidate vying to oust longtime Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., described to Fox News Digital his visit with IDF forces upon returning from a brief 36-hour trip on the ground in Israel, deeming the experience a testament to the need for “solidarity” after Hamas’ October 7 attack as the conflict poses a serious “test” to American leadership. 

McCormick, a West Point graduate, combat veteran and Bronze star recipient, told Fox News Digital by phone he was still digesting what he deemed an “emotional” day and a half spent visiting an Israeli community along the Gaza border where dozens were killed on October 7, as well as meeting with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana. 

He recounted the “emotionally wrenching” experience of meeting with the families of Israeli hostages alongside his wife Dina Powell McCormick, a former deputy national security adviser in former President Trump’s administration who worked on the Abraham Accords. 

“We have six daughters between us – that, just putting ourselves in their shoes and listening to their stories,” McCormick said. “Today is, I believe, day 90 of the hostages being gone. And these are families that are just still trying to figure out, you know, the possibilities of getting their loved ones home.” 

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McCormick said they also watched the IDF compilation of the Hamas attack footage, which he says “highlights the incredible evil – evilness and viciousness – of Hamas, and just reinforces the obvious: Hamas has to be eradicated.”

“There’s no living side by side with this kind of evil, genocidal behavior,” he added.

Recounting meetings with IDF officials, he said, “We literally looked over the shoulder and saw how some of those military operations are working and just the level of precision and care going into trying to minimize innocent casualties from innocent civilians.” 

“Seeing it firsthand just absolutely reinforced the need for solidarity on behalf of America, solidarity with the Jewish people in Israel, solidarity with the forces of good versus evil, solidarity and standing against this horrific, horrific genocidal attack. And then also, just the necessity of eradicating Hamas,” McCormick said. “You hear some of the dialogue here in America and you know, there’s no two sides of this story. There’s only pure evil that needs to be eliminated. And then you can’t possibly live side by side with a group of people that orchestrated this kind of horrific attack. So those were the two takeaways – solidarity and the need to support Israel in its steps she’s taking to eliminate Hamas altogether.” 

Also referencing the rise in antisemitism in the United States since October 7, as well as the congressional testimonies of the presidents of Harvard, UPenn and MIT failing to condemn calls for the genocide of Jews on their campuses, McCormick argued that the Israel-Hamas war serves as an “inflection point” and test to the morals of American life. 

“This is a moment. It’s a test. It’s sort of an inflection point in both what’s going on in America, but what’s going on in the world. And it’s a moment where there’s a need for leadership to stand up with complete moral clarity on what’s going on and why America needs to play a very active leadership role in the world,” McCormick told Fox News Digital. 

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“We’ve had a progressive ideology that sort of hijacked some of the underlying principles of what makes America special, the notion of meritocracy, the belief that America has been a force for good in the world, and we’ve had very weak leadership that hasn’t been able to step up and call balls and strikes on what’s right and what’s wrong,” McCormick said of the United States. “And my opponent, Bob Casey, has been a very clear example that he hasn’t demonstrated moral clarity. He hasn’t stepped up and been willing to call out members of his own party, people like Summer Lee who he’s endorsed, or CAIR, the organization that he had been very strongly supportive of that has come out with such antisemitic behavior.”

Fox News Digital reached out to Casey’s office for comment, but they did not immediately respond. The senator did issue a statement on Oct. 7 saying that the U.S. “must stand with Israel and its right to self-defense.” He also sent a letter to the leaders of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee in December calling for additional funding for the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights so they can address rising levels of antisemitism.

McCormick, however, charged that Casey “wasn’t quick to call out” the three college presidents who are “educating some of our best and brightest.” He also accused the Democrat of supporting the Obama and Biden administrations’ policies that he said weakened the United States’ position in the Middle East. 

“The original sin as it relates to what’s going on in the Middle East with Israel is the treatment of Iran,” he said. “And this, you know, began under the Obama administration. That sort of weakness and complicity has carried through the Biden administration, and it’s been wholeheartedly supported every step of the way with Bob Casey and three votes, different votes for in support of the Iran deal.”

McCormick added that U.S. leadership must “start with the recognition that Iran is at the core of promoting this dangerous ideology and underwriting terrorist groups around the Middle East.” 

Those groups include Hamas and Hezbollah, who continue to attack Israel, as well as Houthis in Yemen who have attacked vessels in the Red Sea.

“So I think that’s the moment we’re in and that’s the need for leadership, the need for clarity of right versus wrong,” McCormick said. “Of America – what’s special about America with all its dark chapters, what makes America the best, most unique country in the world and the most exceptional country in the world.”

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