Toomey on gun laws: GOP didn't want to be seen helping Obama
May 1st, 2013
08:46 PM ET
2 years 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. Patrick

    Senator Arlen 'Sellout' Toomey!. Makes me proud to be a Pennsylvanian... Not! I'm guessing his best chance for re-election is to pull a Specter and become a Democrat. He seems to be heading down that road already.

    May 2, 2013 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  2. norma jean.

    You cannot help..Repubs ,but realize that your absolute intention to NOT work with the president has cost you votes and perhaps the last election.....as you continue to refuse to do your part for the people of this country while refusing the president....you will continue to lose a multitude of votes in whatever endeaver you are interested in. We are not stupid nor wearing rose colored glasses but we DO know what the people need and how they feel about the Republican party. This is and has always been a two party system and when one party won't do their part......they are bound to be left behind and that's exactly what is happening!!!! Believe it or not!! Whether Obama was your choice or not he was voted in by a majority and will remain so until the next election.

    May 2, 2013 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  3. Nathan

    I absolutely disagree. If we elect someone we are their supporters. If they are voting based on what we want that is simply the only right thing to do. To place a vote based on your own beliefs when your supporters disagree is a breach of our entire political structure

    May 2, 2013 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  4. Name Carl

    Shame on the Republicans.

    May 2, 2013 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  5. jamesnyc

    Who keeps electing these people? 2014 can't get here soon enough. What about recalls?

    May 2, 2013 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  6. alpeaston

    The American people are tired of the political games from the Party of "No"! Let's see how the GOP does in the next election... (Time to vote these bums OUT!)

    May 2, 2013 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  7. Engineer

    How about helping the American people. Did Republicans ever think of that?

    May 2, 2013 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  8. tina

    This has been goiing on for five years. The world see what America is all about. Everyone knows why.

    May 2, 2013 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  9. Thomas

    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.

    ==========

    Thank you GOP obstructionists .
    It's sad when persons can't admit there wrong, just because another is right.
    over 60% of Americans were in favor of the bill.
    We will meet again in November.

    May 2, 2013 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  10. NameAlbrit

    No republicans will get my vote. Elected officials mut work for their people and not for the big corporations then pay them vacations in luxury hotels, tickets in first class, and maybe deposit money in their accounts overseas.

    May 2, 2013 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  11. David

    This of course has been the theme of the GOP the entire time Obama has been in office. The party of no way if it's Obama's idea.

    May 2, 2013 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  12. Dick Smegma

    Helping Obama confirms the truth of "No good deed goes unpunished."

    May 2, 2013 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  13. Data Driven

    I appreciate Toomey's candor.

    Yes indeed, god forbid they do something that's good for the country, something that the people want them to do ... if it helps Obama.

    May 2, 2013 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  14. Greg

    Ughhh, what has this countries government come to? The President is barely a few months into office, his last term at that, and half the government doesn't want to be seen cooperating with him in any way because they are concerned about the primaries?!!! Not a good look.

    May 2, 2013 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  15. vicki

    Such an unfortunate childish response that is not good for the GOP or the American people. We deserve better!

    May 2, 2013 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  16. Steve

    What if Obama wasn't black?

    May 2, 2013 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  17. ep tor

    Actually, they voted against the American people.

    May 2, 2013 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  18. The Rev Dr Sherwood Forrester

    As if we needed more evidence that Republicans don't care how much damage they cause the country as long as they can score a political point with their base... I hope they hear the screams of terrified, dying children every night when they try to sleep.

    May 2, 2013 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  19. Sara

    Now they are ready to admit that Republicans are sabotaging our great nation in our fellow Americans because they don't like the man who is President . . what a sad state of affairs.

    May 2, 2013 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  20. john

    Yeah, funny. Obama blames the GOP, the GOP blames Obama. In the end, it's both sides that are at fault!!!

    May 2, 2013 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  21. NameCraggar

    They attack our 2nd amendment rights.We should suppress their first amendment rights.

    May 2, 2013 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  22. Nonsensical

    Probably the most unvarnished statement to date.

    May 2, 2013 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  23. bearitstrong

    "some in his party simply voted against the measure to prevent the president from winning a legislative victory. "

    average Americans lost also.

    May 2, 2013 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  24. Loathstheright

    Of course not, Republicans will do anything to damage the President, even t-r-e-a-s-o-n.

    May 2, 2013 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  25. Ketsui

    These are the people in charge of our country????? Is no one else thinking if this was a normal job these people would be fired?????

    May 2, 2013 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
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