Attacks dominate Pennsylvania’s Senate GOP primary debate

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — What could be the final major debate between Republicans running for Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate seat spiraled into a series of attacks about China, abortion and more as candidates wrestled with each perceived advantage in one Wednesday night broad spectrum. open and expensive race.

In many instances, the five candidates dismissed questions during the hour-long debate to reiterate talking points and attack rivals.

Attackers often sought to siphon off the business relationships of former hedge fund CEOs David McCormick and Mehmet Oz, best known as the cardiac surgeon-turned-celebrity and host of the daytime show The Dr. Oz Show” on television to make hay out of business relations with China.

Abortion posed a question in the debate, although headlines dominated after a leaked draft Supreme Court opinion suggested the court’s conservative majority is poised to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade’s 1973 legalization of abortion nationwide.

The candidates called themselves “pro-life” and applauded the overthrow of Roe v. Wade, but neither directly answered the only question about abortion: whether the candidates support any exceptions to abortion and whether they’ve changed their minds over the years.

Instead, McCormick and Conservative activist Kathy Barnette tried to contact Oz based on comments in a 2019 radio show in which Oz said most people supported the standard set forth in the Roe v. Wade by 1973 to be portrayed as insufficiently loyal to the anti-abortion cause. This standard prohibits abortion after the fetus is viable outside the uterus, around 24 weeks gestation.

Appearing on the morning show “The Breakfast Club” on WWPR-FM in New York, Oz said he didn’t want anyone in his family to have an abortion and appeared to criticize the idea of ​​banning abortions simply because a heartbeat was detected – which usually happens around the sixth week of pregnancy.

He also criticized the broader fight for abortion and suggested that states that ban abortion would let companies flee the state.

At the debate, Oz insisted he was pro-life, saying “life begins at conception,” a talking point for anti-abortion groups who want to ban abortion on every diagnosed pregnancy.

Barnette has a particular cachet on the subject: she has revealed that she was the product of rape when her mother was 11, and repeated that story in the debate.

“I wasn’t just a bunch of cells,” Barnette said. “As you can see, I’m still not just a clump of cells.”

The primary is on May 17, giving candidates less than two weeks to make their mark as Republican primary spending tops $60 million.

The debate, sponsored by conservative broadcaster Newsmax, was held in a crowded classroom at a private Christian school, Grove City College, in northwestern Pennsylvania.

Oz is endorsed by Donald Trump and is attending a rally with the former president in western Pennsylvania on Friday.

McCormick, meanwhile, has significant ties to the establishment, dating back to his service in the highest echelons of former President George W. Bush’s administration.

Elsewhere, Oz and Bartos have hinted that McCormick’s former hedge fund is responsible for billions of dollars in debt at the state’s largest public pension fund, which began piling up two decades ago amid a market downturn and insufficient government contributions.

In reality, the hedge fund — despite earning nearly $700 million in fees since 2004 — has often lived up to expectations for its investments, according to pension system officials.

Elsewhere, Barnette called McCormick and Oz “globalists” and tried to link them to the World Economic Forum – which has been the subject of right-wing conspiracy theories.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Oz said to Barnette.

“Globalist” is a derogatory term of anti-Semitic origin, adopted by Trump and others around him to conjure up an elite, international clique that does not serve America’s best interests.

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