In a video announcing that he will challenge Democratic Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey in 2024, Connecticut-based Republican millionaire Dave McCormick vowed on Thursday, “I will lead the fight on China.” But his own record and that of hedge fund manager Ken Griffin, the billionaire megadonor funding his candidacy, directly contradict that promise.
McCormick unsuccessfully sought the Pennsylvania Republican Senate nomination in 2022, narrowly losing to television personality Mehmet Oz in the primary. Prior to that, he was CEO of Bridgewater Associates, one of the nation’s largest hedge funds.
“We’re in a contest with China for dominance in the digital age, and this strategy lays out a path to victory,” reads “Dave’s Battle Plan to Renew America” on McCormick’s campaign website. “However, the national renewal agenda will not be possible without leadership to ensure the United States stands up for itself in the world, confronts China, builds new coalitions of willing partners, and reasserts leadership in this new era of geopolitical confrontation.”
As undersecretary of the treasury for international affairs under President George W. Bush, McCormick gave a speech in September 2007 in Beijing endorsing a strong U.S.-China relationship: “One thing that has emerged from this dialogue is an even greater recognition of the huge interest each of our countries has in the continued growth and prosperity of the other. When China succeeds, the United States succeeds.”
At Bridgewater, McCormick oversaw billions of dollars in investments in China. “We served the biggest global investors in the world, and they want markets all around the world. So they wanted to diversify their portfolios, including in China. So we had an investment strategy that ultimately, I think while I was there, like 2% of our assets were in China,” he told the conservative American Enterprise Institute in March. “But we had $160 billion, so 2% is not an insignificant amount, was in China. And the tension was, you know, 30% of most of your homes have China-based products in them, so the integration of the economies is a reality for everybody.”
In October 2020, he told the Greenwich Economy Forum:
Well, I think it’s important to distinguish between decoupling of the U.S.-China economies and decoupling in key sectors or key technologies. It would really be, given the relative size of our respective economies, given the interdependence of supply chains, it would really be a blow to China and the United States to move down a path where we have economic decoupling, and so I hope, and that’s a risk with some of the extremes and some of the rhetoric that could emerge on both sides, so I think that is very much not to be hoped for and something that is to be avoided.
A McCormick campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to an American Independent Foundation inquiry for this story.
In his 2022 campaign, McCormick’s allies formed the Honor Pennsylvania super PAC to support his candidacy. Of the $21 million it raised, $8.8 million came from Griffin, his most generous backer.
The Dispatch reported on Sep. 18 that Griffin was actively involved in recruiting McCormick to run again in 2024.
Keystone Renewal, McCormick’s 2024 super PAC, has not yet released any donor information, but the Jewish Insider reported that both Griffin and McCormick will be on a Friday fundraising call with major Republican donors.
Griffin, one of the largest individual donors in the Republican Party, also has extensive ties with China. His Citadel Securities brokerage business reportedly received permission earlier this year from the Chinese government to become a qualified foreign investor in its stock exchange.
“China, given the size of its capital markets, is a center of focus for our investment team,” Griffin said at a Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore in November 2022. “Seeing growth in the region accelerate only encourages us to increase the size of our commitment.”
In an interview with the state-owned Chinese media outlet Yicai Global in March 2022, Griffin said he opposed the economic decoupling of the United States and China: “I worry that the decoupling of our software and hardware stacks means less opportunity for consumers to have state-of-the-art solutions and that having the best and brightest in both our countries working in different engineering ecosystems will slow the rate of innovation that has so profoundly improved our lives for the better.”
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.