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. SpencerRifle

    If I don't want what someone is selling, then yes, I will oppose it. It doesn't matter to me if it's Obama, Bush, or Santa Claus doing the selling. It's the product they're pushing that I disagree with.

    May 2, 2013 05:29 am at 5:29 am |
  2. AbrahamLincoln

    The GOP is UNamerican...simple as that.

    May 2, 2013 05:30 am at 5:30 am |
  3. MightyMoo

    That isn't surprising given how the GOP has acted since he was first elected.

    May 2, 2013 05:40 am at 5:40 am |
  4. Chris

    That pretty much sums up the modern GOP. All they care about is doing everything in their power to ensure Obama fails. Without the slightest concern to serving the people or the country.

    May 2, 2013 05:46 am at 5:46 am |
  5. festus onas.

    pls d problem is dat sm others re tryin to pull down d effort of mr obama.d case of d paliament is also a problem bcos of d delay created in passy d bill.tanks

    May 2, 2013 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
  6. John McCarey

    Obama has demonstrated that he doesn't need help; nor does he offer any. He truly is the first American dictator.

    May 2, 2013 05:57 am at 5:57 am |
  7. Alex Vallas

    Wow! A voice of reason among so many who would rather see innocent people killed by demented individuals than see the President succeed in any area. While the Senator referred, accurately, to all the GOP, it was the GOP members of Congress who blocked this initiative. We have a party that is so possessed with hatred they even refuse to listen to the majority of Americans and to those who voted them into office. Pathetic beyond belief.

    May 2, 2013 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  8. mattski

    The truth is often not pretty.

    May 2, 2013 06:14 am at 6:14 am |
  9. milke mann

    Democrats ever want to help Republicans?

    Get real. The problem is not with legitimate citizen tax paying law abiding gun owners is it? Te problem is with criminals and thugs or wantabe muslims. All of your serial killers and urban ghetto thugs are LIBERALS who commit 99% of all violent crime in America. Tucson was a liberal student. Aurora was a muslim wantabe grad student who converted in jail .Newtown was probably a muslim wantabe under video game influence who committed suicide like any good jihadist although he didnt own the guns, his mother did who he killed. How would background have helped there? And dont forget the good ole fashioned muslims in Boston. America is a dangerous place and has been since its inception 500 years ago when indians killed and scalped whole families or wild animals roamed freely such as large bears or cougars.

    May 2, 2013 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  10. Belseth

    So they are willing to let the country suffer to forward a political agenda. Be afraid of the Republican party they'd let this country burn for the sake of power and control.

    May 2, 2013 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  11. joe

    The only reason it didn't pass is because of the obvious racism of the GOP. They hate a black president. I am a white guy who lives in the South. I don't talk about politics with my buddies. They think I am a Republican. They are good, hard-working, family oriented people who will not hesitate to drop casual racial slurs into any conversation regarding the president.
    These are the facts. We might be a tolerant society, but we still have a long way to go to overcome racism.

    May 2, 2013 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  12. Name

    Poor Senators – first the Tea party does them in, now the NRA – HAVING NO SPINE IS HARD WORK!

    May 2, 2013 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  13. BigdaddyUSA

    That's whats wrong with our Polititians, they vote for their party not for what's right or wrong.

    May 2, 2013 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  14. Albert

    Republicans don't have audacity anymore – once the President supports a bill, that bill becomes enemy of Republican Party – even if it is a Republicans agenda.

    How can you hit one person so much that may lead you to hit your own country? I am So sad, sad for my country.

    May 2, 2013 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  15. kevin

    blahblahblahblahblah......didnt read this story, didnt need to. Four years later, Obama is still not to blame for any failures. It is those danged Republicans. I have never seen a president that has never been attached to anything.

    May 2, 2013 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  16. Marie MD

    Once again out in the open. The repugnants want the black man to fail because we the people voted for him twice to be our president. They could care less what happens to the country just as long as this never happens again on their watch.
    mcConnell with the one tern at all cost and now toomey (now he's trying to back pedal like they usually do but too late).
    Even rethugs around the country wanted background checks. These fools are so out of touch with their constituents and the country as a whole that it's downright scary. But, hey, they can now go back home on time on those free flights they get that we, the taxpayers, pay for.

    May 2, 2013 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  17. William R. Hill

    Surprise, surprise! Republicans voted against something because they don't want to help Obama, regardless of what may good for the country. This has been going on since the first day Obama took office and before. Stupid as it may be, it's the GOP strategy for winning the White House and mid-term elections. Meanwhile, the essential needs of the country, including a budget, go begging, and the insane sequester is hurting everybody. The GOP, paralyzed by its ideology, is a disgrace to politics and its obligations to the people of the United States.

    May 2, 2013 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  18. Colombian

    Pat Toomey is a RINO and the people in PA will show him the exit doors next time he is up for election, CNN and the MSM are hell bent on passing laws that already exist, the second ammendment is a right and it is not up for debate.

    May 2, 2013 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  19. Steve

    Thank you Captain Obvious! What will we ever do with out you?!

    May 2, 2013 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  20. Gabbo

    So what ? Obama is constantly blaming the GOP for everything, never taking responsibility. He is a slug -we'll be far better off when he's gone.

    May 2, 2013 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  21. PeaceMom

    The GOP would rather see the country go down the toilet than do the right thing.
    The GOP hates Obama more than it loves the U.S.
    The GOP will protect the 1% at the expense of the 99%.
    The GOP will protect the NRA at the expense of innocent children and adults.
    nuf said.

    May 2, 2013 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  22. Roger

    I'm sure Grover told them what to do. And GOP "men" wouldn't dare upset Mr. Norquist.

    May 2, 2013 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  23. David

    And this in a nutshell is why the republicans are dysfunctional. What a pack of sore losers, crybabies and adolescents!
    Way to work for the good of the country, and way to do the will of the people.

    YOU ARE BUMS!

    May 2, 2013 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  24. Thomas

    Ghee, politicians voting for their own self interest rather than the interests of the people? What a shock!

    May 2, 2013 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  25. cnn+bull

    It's pathetic that many politicians still put hurting the president over what's good for the country after the election.

    May 2, 2013 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
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