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. Maggie

    "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.
    Do they really, I mean really believe that this kind of thing will help them get re-elected again. The entire Congress is a disgrace. They should all be ashamed of themselves. They do nothing and get paid to do nothing while the rest of us fight to keep out jobs.

    May 2, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  2. rs

    I think we ALL know that the Republicans "don't want to help Obama". It has been that way since 2009. The question really is, if the GOP doesn't stand with a popularly elected (i.e. more than 50%) President of the United States, who in this case had the backing of 90% of Americans, just who in the hell do the Republicans want to help?

    As a party they won't survive through 2014- but they are sure making the rest of us look forward to the destruction of the GOP by their own hands.

    May 2, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  3. Wake up People!

    @Be Sane

    What do you mean he shouldn't have been elected POTUS?? He's very intelligent and qualified. Also why do you think it's the dems job to neutralize hate in the republican party?? How lovely it must be to not understand the origins of hatred and racism. I unfortunately don't have that luxury. You cannot neutralize something that has been taught for 100's of years. Were you aware of that fact that little white boys referred to adult black men as "boys" for 100's of years?? Men old enough to be their grandfathers were demeaned and emasculated. And you think they are just going to forget all that simply because a man that looks black, but actually was born to a white woman, was elected POTUS, then sweetie you really need to educate yourself on true race relations in America. Many of these people hate his skin color and no matter what he wants to do, they will be against.

    All you need to do is watch Fox News for a day. If that doesn't open your eyes, nothing will.

    May 2, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  4. BHO123

    I'm glad it didn't pass. It did nothing for the REAL gun violence in areas like Detroit and Chicago. These "mass murders with scary looking weapons" account for exactly how many deaths... and how many deaths relative to other types of guns?

    This is feel good legislation. That's it.

    May 2, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  5. Snarky MacFee

    AND...i thought they meant they wanted "smaller government" NOT "small-minded government". Tea Party wanted an end to government and they succeeded. I guess they want applause now. I dont even give a rip about the gun bill per se, this is going to happen on E-V-E-R-Y bit of legislation. My vote is that you are all fired (both parties)

    May 2, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  6. Da Observer

    What's new? That's exactly what those fake "patriotic" GOPers have been doing since before the 2008 election: Block anything and everything that this half white/ half black president, twice elected by sizable majorities, is trying to do for the country.
    Imagine: if there were a huge outbreak of some epidemic in the US and Obama suggested that we must vaccinate all citizens to curb the epidemic, the GOP would vote against it, because those Repubs can't stand to see him succeed in anything. They are fanatics of a narrow minded ilk that this country hasn't seen since the days of the Scopes monkey trial.

    May 2, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  7. Guest

    Vote out all liberals...including the republican ones, like Toomey.

    May 2, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  8. ghostriter

    so....he said what we've known since 2008. That this batch of republicans don't want to work with republicans. Add to this Cruz's report on the rank and file telling him to be quiet due to his unpopular stances and you get a real clear picture of what republicans are doing.

    Of course, now Toomey will be ousted from the party, like Crist and possibly Christie.

    May 2, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  9. jboh

    The actions of the TEA/GOP borders, and at times, equals treason. If these jokers were able to win elections on the merits of their policies, they wouldn't have to push efforts to keep people (carefully selected groups)from voting. When partisan hatred trumps the will of 90%(85% of GOP and NRA)of their constituents, it is time for those who vote TEA/GOP o look in the mirror and ask just who these crooked clowns are representing. Answer, Wall St, dominionists, and losers who had no one to "hang" with before the TEA club for chronic malcontents. Stop helping them destroy America to "save"it.

    May 2, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  10. Lynda/Minnesota

    Kansas Slim

    History will record that these Republicans were among the most cowardly politicians the nation has ever produced. They simply have no courage, no integrity, and no minds of their own. They are a disgrace to all the babble they spew about the great values of this country. They should be ashamed of themselves, but they are too self-interested to understand even that.
    ---------------

    Yes, they should be ashamed of themselves. I suspect a great many of them are ashamed ... to a point. And, no. That doesn't excuse their behaviour. However, when you have folks such as Mitch McConnell, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity running the Grand Old Party, I DID expect a great deal of what has happened (and has been said about this President) to happen (and be said).

    What I didn't expect is for the mainstream media to hook up to the GOP bandwagon of bigotry by instigating and condoning such behaviour. That DID come as a suprise.

    May 2, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  11. danny white

    GOP won't won't be a president for a long time why..........Racist!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 2, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  12. PeterD

    I can't believe this article. It works really hard to blame Republicans and to make it look like Obama and the Dems are in a catch 22. I wish CNN would be more honest in it's reporting.

    May 2, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  13. shistone

    Maybe when Obama is out of office these spineless goons will be able to vote on something that is good for the country.Maybe then they wont' have to answer to the bigots and racists who voted them into office. Oh wait! I guess we'll have to wait until Hillary is out of office, because then they wont' want to be seen voting for a WOMAN !!! Well, I guess that makes it about 11 YEARS before anything that will help the people will get voted on. All the more reason to vote them out of office in 2014. PLEASE!!!!!!!!!

    May 2, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  14. Guest

    Nothing to do with color, it has eveything to do with competence and qualifications, oblabla has neither. The next elections cant come soon enough...

    May 2, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  15. norb

    Background checks would not have stopped the school shootings. Some are just taking advantage of emotions to push the background check. I think it is naive for people to believe that background checks will keep those with criminal
    record from owning a gun. They will get one regardless.

    it is not surprising as congress is just a reflection of polarization and hate of the American people. It starts at home - look at the hate being spued in these comments from both sides - liberals are just as bad as conservatives.

    May 2, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  16. The Real Tom Paine

    The funny thing about Toomey is that he was head of the Club for Growth, a decidedly conservative business group. No one should be questioning his conservative credentials, but he will undoubtably pay a price for trying to craft a compromise with one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate. This is how legislation is passed: not by making stands to secure the base, but by getting something done. I know there will be someone on here saying that doing nothing is better, but they are wrong. Legislators are elected to not only represent their districts/states, but to craft laws to make our lives better. If enforcing existing laws is all that it takes, then it would have been done: Congress would have appropriated the funds for that purpose. The GOP does not want to give Obama a victory on anything, so they are prepared to sacrifice us on the alter of ideological purity so they can keep their already safe, gerrymandered seats and then say " See? We told you that doing something was a bad idea! Now, where is my check from Wayne?" Bobby Jindall was right, the stupid party is back and its symbol is an elephant.

    May 2, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  17. rs

    I'm glad it didn't pass. It did nothing for the REAL gun violence in areas like Detroit and Chicago. These "mass murders with scary looking weapons" account for exactly how many deaths... and how many deaths relative to other types of guns?
    ____________________________________
    So just how many deaths, especially school-aged kids exactly is worth this gun "freedom"?

    May 2, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  18. rs

    I can't believe this article. It works really hard to blame Republicans and to make it look like Obama and the Dems are in a catch 22. I wish CNN would be more honest in it's reporting.
    ______________________________
    Catch-22 is too kind. We're stuck working with the American version of the Taliban with today's GOP.

    May 2, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  19. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Jim Crow is alive and well in America here in the 21st century. And just when you thought Truman and LBJ had it hard during the Civil Rights era in America! Try the presidency of Barack H. Obama! Bigotry and racism are terrible deseases that are eating away the fabric of our democracy!!

    May 2, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  20. rs

    Guest

    Nothing to do with color, it has eveything to do with competence and qualifications, oblabla has neither. The next elections cant come soon enough...
    _______________________
    So says the individual who after 5 years still can't spell the President's name.

    Look for a party that so whole-heartedly embraces walking mental midgets like Cruz, Palin, Angel, and Bachmann, it is clear the GOP HAS NO qualifications- except perhaps the ability to spread lies, hatred and fear. Your party is what is wrong with America today, and you are just a tool for their sick moral-less plots.

    May 2, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  21. don in albuquerque

    I do not care if you are for or against gun control. I do not care if you are a Repub or a Dem, or whether you believe in God of don't. The senate proved one thing to you by their vote. Government By the People, and For The People is dead as far as they are concerned. Its every man for himself, and for his own wallet. None of these men and women are deserving of any modicum of respect.

    May 2, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  22. dajowi

    So if 90% of Americans wanted something like the Toomey / Manchin gun control bill passed.

    It must have been the other 10% of voters who took the time to write to their state legislators to voice their opinion against it which struck a chord.

    May 2, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  23. Anonymous

    First of all, kudos to Toomey for having the cajones to finally admit out loud that his party is nothing but a bunch of treasonous haters. Face it, they couldn't stand the fact that Barack Obama was so welcomed and admired throughout the entire world and when he was elected in 2008 they had a secret meeting to plot against him. Then when he got re-elected, their world shattered entirely! There is no way they are going to give him any "wins" at this point as it is power and party above all else for them. Having said all that, the Democratic voters should take much of the blame as it is they who didn't turn out in 2010 to keep the Dem House majority! Shame on us!!

    May 2, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  24. rs

    It must have been the other 10% of voters who took the time to write to their state legislators to voice their opinion against it which struck a chord.
    __________________
    Nah, just a check from the NRA and a threat about that Senator's gun rating.

    May 2, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  25. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Republicans and Democrats who voted against background checks, you made your bed, now you have to lay in it. This issue will be front and center all the way to November 2014. You guys can pass immigration, stop sequestration, close Gitmo and still, this will be the vote we'll remember.

    May 2, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
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