Toomey on gun laws: GOP didn't want to be seen helping Obama
May 1st, 2013
08:46 PM ET
12 months ago

Toomey on gun laws: GOP didn't want to be seen helping Obama

(CNN) - Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania blamed political polarization for the failure of last month's background check compromise he reached with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, saying some in his party simply voted against the measure to prevent the president from winning a legislative victory.

"In the end, it didn't pass because we're so politicized. There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it," Toomey said.

"The toughest thing to do in politics is to do the right thing when your supporters think the right thing is something else," he added.

His comments came in an interview Tuesday with a roundtable of Digital First Media editors in the offices of the Times Herald newspaper in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

According to the editors at the meeting, Toomey clarified his comment, saying he meant to say Republicans in general, not just his GOP colleagues in the Senate.

Toomey was one of four Republicans who voted on a measure to expand the background check system so that it covers private sales at gun shows and online. Five Democrats voted against the proposal (including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who voted no so he could bring the bill back up later).

In a 54-46 vote, the measure failed to reach the 60 votes needed to move forward in the Senate. Along with the background checks legislation, a ban on assault weapons also went down in defeat.

President Barack Obama said Tuesday in a news conference that he suspected there were Republican members in Congress who vote against their instincts for political purposes.

"Their base thinks that compromise with me is somehow a betrayal. They're worried about primaries. And I understand all that. And we're going to try to do everything we can to create a permission structure for them to be able to do what's going to be best for the country," he said. "But it's going to take some time."

The president and gun control advocates chided lawmakers for failing to pass the proposal, the only one that had a real shot of passing among the slew of gun proposals brought forward in the wake of the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

While Obama, Reid and gun control groups have vowed to keep up the pressure and bring the legislation back for a vote down the road, Toomey expressed doubt that a second vote will happen soon.

"Reid could bring it up for a vote at any time, but we need five people to change their minds," Toomey said.

"It's a pretty heavy lift to get five senators to change their mind on a big issue like this," he added. "It's not likely to happen any time soon. I hope people will reconsider over time."

His comments sounded less enthusiastic compared with those made by Manchin. The senator from West Virginia said Sunday he believes the measure is still alive and together they can persuade enough lawmakers to support it.

"I truly believe if we have time to sell the bill, and people read the bill," it will gain support, Manchin said. "I'm willing to go anywhere in this country, I'm going to debate anybody on this issue, read the bill and you tell me what you don't like."

– CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: Gun control • Gun rights • Joe Manchin • Pat Toomey
soundoff (555 Responses)
  1. BO

    Toomey is a traitor.

    May 2, 2013 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  2. evilroyslade

    Not surprised repubs vote party no matter what the voters want.

    May 2, 2013 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  3. S Grant Caron

    This is going to sound harsh but they deserve harsh. I can't wait till all the republican baby boomers die so something can actually get done.

    May 2, 2013 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  4. Mike Buck

    Thank you Senator Toomey for coming clean about the RepubliCON agenda which obviously hasn't changed since the 2008 and 2012 election. However Congress did vote to finance air traffic despite the sequester so Congress gets to fly home. What a bunch of wankers.

    May 2, 2013 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  5. TucsonBill

    I'll tell you what I don't like about the bill, Mr. Manchin. I don't like the fact it is another gun control bill that does nothing to address an actual, real, non-hypothetical problem. I don't like the fact that the issue you are claiming to address is one that you politicians caused to begin with by trying so hard not to "stigmatize" people who have real problems and are a danger to themselves and to others. And I don't like the fact that you so cavalierly wish to pass a bill that directly attacks the constitution – not a big attack, mind you, but a death-by-a-thousand-cuts attack.

    May 2, 2013 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  6. Republican who supports President Obama

    FINALLY someone from the GOP admits on record what we all have known since January 2009. We should remember this when we venture into the polls and sweep out those who frankly do not care about the people in this country and focus on obstruction.

    May 2, 2013 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  7. Rogue351

    This is not NEWS. It is common knowledge that the GOP dislikes Obama and everything he stands for. Regardless of how the economy improves, wars end, new wars do not start, terrorists captured or killed the GOP / Tea Party wants nothing to do with Obama, even if it means they will never legitimately win another election. Even if the GOP / Tea Party is doing the wrong thing as long as it is opposite to what Obama would do they feel it is right, even when it hurts America. Which they have proven time and time again.

    May 2, 2013 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  8. Chuck Anahem, Ca.

    Color me surprised! I would say the even if the President were to make the Chinese forgive our debt and give every American a job with good benefits the republicons would still oppose it.

    May 2, 2013 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  9. Ps

    Loosers. Pretty soon GOP will be out of existence, if they keep up the way they have been.

    May 2, 2013 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  10. CaliforniaAC

    Toomey is absolutely right, but that has been the case since Presiden Obama's election . The last thing the GOP wants is to have the first black president succeed. The GOP is still controled by two things: RACISM and GREED.

    May 2, 2013 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  11. Gateway

    Plain and simple this is treason against the economic health of our country. This hatred of our President and his policies to improve the business and job needs for our nation cannot and should not be tolerated by the citizens of our country. The Republican party has displayed a childish mentality and most are not fit to hold public office. Any person that earns $100,000. or less annually should realize the Republican does not honestly represent the average person.

    May 2, 2013 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  12. noneyobeeswax

    Wow... just to hear it from one of the sane GOP Senators... wow.

    It's about time, though. GOP seems to forget over and over that the Democratic Senate could have caused just as much trouble for W. Bush. But they did not constantly resort to filibusters. They did not hold the country hostage on the debt limit. Are people understanding these very simple observations? Rush Limbaugh said it himself that he would rather Obama fail and the country suffer than Obama succeed and the country prosper.

    As an independent I have always strove to listen to the other side... but this complete dereliction of responsibility over petty issues regarding who "looks good" is inexcusable. If you are a free-thinking Republican who cares about the country you owe it to the rest of us to make it clear it your party that the nation comes first. I don't care about your good intentions... the people you put in power care more about politics than actual legislation.

    May 2, 2013 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  13. sally-ann

    denying the fact that most Americans want gun safety laws.

    May 2, 2013 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  14. Kat

    That's ok... It'll all get sorted out in 2014. See you at the polls!

    May 2, 2013 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  15. cbr77

    If you had told me when Toomey got elected he would sound moderate a few years later I would not have believed it. Good for him for speaking the truth.

    May 2, 2013 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  16. Ron Donaghe

    That has been the Republican play book since Obama took office, with the likes of Rush Limbaugh unapologetically saying he wanted to see Obama fail, and the Republicans got into lock step with him. The needs of the American people be damned.

    May 2, 2013 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  17. Heebeejeebee

    That is disgraceful – simply refusing the president a victory

    May 2, 2013 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  18. ronjayaz

    The Republicanters R digging their own political graves. 2014 is coming. Then we'll see what we'll see.

    May 2, 2013 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  19. What in Sam Hill

    never - and I am an obama supporter.

    May 2, 2013 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  20. John P. Tarver

    Democrats did not help Obama, Republicans do not have the power to stop him in the Senate.

    May 2, 2013 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  21. Hiphopapotomus

    GOP = Life threatening scum

    May 2, 2013 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  22. Futureman1

    When I read articles like this I am so glad I stopped supporting republicans. I sleep so much better.

    May 2, 2013 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  23. southernwonder

    one more down for roadblock republicans.

    May 2, 2013 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  24. dasefx

    OMG! i am shocked. NOT.

    May 2, 2013 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  25. clay

    I am so frustrated with what is going on in Washington. Can people do honorable things for a change? Though it may sound mundane, don't legislators exist for people?

    May 2, 2013 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
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