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McCormick stops at Geno’s in Philadelphia

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(The Center Square) — On a cold, windy, wet Wednesday in South Philadelphia, Dave McCormick stopped at Geno’s to grab four “whiz wit” cheesesteaks.

The Republican nominee for U.S. Senate met a few dozen supporters and campaign staffers at the well-known cheesesteak spot – walking the last block after his tour bus ran into trouble on 10th Street, the narrow lane and cramped parking making a wide turn tricky.

“It was awesome, I ate everything,” McCormick said of the cheesesteak.

Donning an apron, he then jumped on the line to make a few cheesesteaks along with National Republican Senate Committee Chairman Steve Daines of Montana. Former U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey shadowed them.

“How’s business?” the trio asked Geno’s Manager Anthony Rossi.

“It’s not as great as it could be,” Rossi answered. “A lot of tourists who come into the city, they’re still coming, but it could be better.”

Though it’s early, most polls show McCormick behind incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Casey. The latest from mid-March gives Casey a 52-48 lead over his challenger. That gap, however, is better for McCormick than a February poll that had him down 49-39.

After his time as line cook passed, the candidate took questions on national issues like abortion, where a Florida court ruling upheld the constitutionality of a six-week ban.

“This is an issue that’s very polarizing and we need to find common ground in Pennsylvania,” McCormick said. “Our Pennsylvania legislature has put in place a law that Pennsylvanians support and my view is that we need to find common ground around contraception, broad support for adoption services, and restrictions on late-term abortions.”

He positioned himself as a moderate against Casey.

“This is a case where Senator Casey is on the extreme,” McCormick said. “He signed a bill that essentially calls for abortion up until the due date.”

He declined to “put a specific line” for where he’d limit abortion.

“Pennsylvanians have to decide. They decided with their legislation,” he said.

He also encouraged Republicans to support mail-in voting.

“We ought to embrace mail-in ballots across Pennsylvania,” McCormick said, urging Republicans to close the gap between their mail-in rates and the higher mail-in votes of Democrats.

For Republican candidates in November, he talked up former President Donald Trump’s name on the ballot as well.

“On the ticket, President Trump’s gonna get those folks out in Republican counties,” McCormick said. “The two of us are very aligned and I think his campaign can help mine and mine can help his.”

Toomey was more optimistic about McCormick’s appeal to Pennsylvania voters.

“I think it’s likely that Dave runs ahead of Donald Trump,” Toomey said. “I think Dave’s got a very good shot at winning.”

Toomey, who announced in 2020 that he would retire and not run for re-election, has been publicly critical of Trump and vowed not to vote for him.

“My personal views of the former president have not changed,” he said.

Back at Geno’s, the perennial problems of urban life remain front-of-mind. Pre-pandemic crowds haven’t yet returned, with concerns about crime being a deterrent.

“We’re still low compared to COVID,” Rossi said. “When the city’s doing good, steaks is doing good.”

More time, he said, is needed before crowds fully return.

“I know the perception (of crime) is a lot worse than the reality, but still people perceive it to be bad … it takes a while,” Rossi said.

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