Toomey on gun laws: GOP didn't want to be seen helping Obama
May 1st, 2013
08:46 PM ET
10 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.

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"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. GI Joe

    GOP willing to destroy USA to make one black man look bad.

    May 1, 2013 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  2. davidi85

    Well I don't like the fact that the government doesn't even fully implement the background check system that's already in place then they expect folks to believe they are only wanting more restrictions on law abiding gun owners to keep the children safe.. Come on they must really think were all as dumb as they are. What happened in Newton was awful, I can't begin to imagine the grief those folks must feel. But I cant imagine the grief of loosing a child from drowning in a swimming pool either. I guess we had better drain all of them as well, because more children are lost to them than to firearms every year. And does anyone else get the Presidents executive actions. I would have thought they were all things that should have already been happening. I would have been embarrassed to admit they weren't.

    May 1, 2013 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  3. bam

    so business as usual for the trendy gop.... maybe someday they will climb out of the hole and stop making Reagan look like a Demo

    May 1, 2013 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    Two party system is not working, to say the least.

    May 1, 2013 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  5. Randy, San Francisco

    Republican and Tea Party politicians started saying NO from day one of the Obama presidency. Shame on them for placing politics before what is good for the country.

    May 1, 2013 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  6. Tee Darling77

    These Republicans are just plain stupid. They're hypocrites and I blame those people who voted for them in the first place.

    May 1, 2013 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  7. Donnie the Lion

    And that is a legitimate reason? I thought representing the views of the voters counted most of all.

    May 1, 2013 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  8. works4me

    Now there's a revelation. This has been going on for over 5 years. For the GOP it's all about party, certainly not about the people.

    May 1, 2013 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  9. ShawnDH

    This is disgusting. Republicans spit in the face of the American public. Vote them out in 2014.

    May 1, 2013 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  10. glennrobert

    What they don't like is that Obama wants it. We had a Senator who said that he was going to work for 4 years to see that Obama was not re -elected. I guess that was his full time job.

    May 1, 2013 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  11. Secret squirrel

    Can we try these people treason. I'm sick of the Republicans doing their best to ruin this country, President Obama will be gone in 4 years but the choices made by Republican members of Congress will hunt us long after Hillary is sworn in. They voted against infrastructure spending, hurricane relief, background checks, and the earth is round. These anti-government idiots need to get out of government.

    May 1, 2013 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    You've heard about the man who cut off his nose to spite his face ? Congress has about the same level of intelligence and maturity.

    May 1, 2013 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  13. pchelp, Juneau, AK

    One comment here shows a very common problem with Republicans. "The toughest thing to do in politics is to do the right thing when your supporters think the right thing is something else," They should be doing what their constituents think is the right thing-not the gun lobby that supports them with 'campaign' contributions.

    May 1, 2013 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  14. Eric

    American's who care about their country and the well-being of it and the greater good for the majority of the American people should dedicate themselves now to unseating every extremist Republican who continues to pander to the most outrageous and ill-informed segments of our society. We are all suffering because of it and there are too many who are being influenced by dishonest and self-serving special interests (like gun manufacturer's and large corporate interests, big pharma, the financial industry, etc.) who do not care about doing the right thing for the right reasons. To that end they engage outrageous and extreme blowhards who will say anything and do almost anything to keep their audience stupid and motivated. We are all suffering with so much of this unabated drivel in the national dialogue. Get rid of the outrageous Republican's and make sure Democrats follow a proper course – of serving the American people. For now it's the best, only real option we've got.

    May 1, 2013 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  15. Armani Barron

    It's moments like these that makes me embarrassed to be a part of this so called "democracy". Our government leaders have the same maturity as high school girls.

    May 1, 2013 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  16. Dave

    So what else is new? This has been going on ever since President Obama was elected. He proposes a health care plan that was created in a GOP think tank. Somehow it suddenly became the dreaded "socialism". How did that happen?

    May 1, 2013 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  17. Huh?

    Shame on them. I'm disgusted with the Republican Party for what it has become. The "no" party of nothing but do whatever it takes to smear Obama while there are actual victims here. Shame on them. Shame, shame, shame. SMH.

    May 1, 2013 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  18. Mike

    Is it possible that Repups may dislike nonpure whites ? ? ? I was one of those at one time, however one has to change with the times. Of course I'm 82, but it did not take that long to learn that when we blead, we all blead the same color.


    May 1, 2013 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  19. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    If this was Russia or China, these right left wing un-American unpatriotic bigoted racists would have been standing before a firing squad. Its a modern day travesty that people in this country still display such ignorance and hatred more than two hundred years after the end of slavery in this country. This so-called democracy is the worst in world history period.

    May 1, 2013 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  20. rick

    What a lying piece of bull dung. He's trying to make himself look good at the expense of his colleagues. I suggest he switch parties now instead of masquerading as a conservative.

    May 1, 2013 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  21. CaesarXIII

    I feel safe in knowing that any gun laws that are passed will not be enforced just like all the other current gun laws we already have in place.

    May 1, 2013 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  22. Marv Crawford

    The Republican Party will cease to exist in the not too distance future. Mainstream America is sick and tired of them being nothing but "Obama haters". If you don't believe this, you're an idiot or one of them!

    May 1, 2013 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  23. SoAreU

    no kidding, I'm shocked I tell you, shocked! the truth is the GOP is just hurting themselves and their chances to win again for 8 more years. Hillary will beat their pants off.

    May 1, 2013 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  24. Doug Sheppard

    GOP doesn't want to help Obama, now that's a revelation.

    May 1, 2013 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  25. john

    How childish and churlish of the Republicans. They would rather hurt the President And the American People then do the right thing for us all. They just continue to do this just because of hate. In my view, this make them unsuited to be holding Any office of responsibility. Let them be ditch diggers or burger flippers(no slight intended diggers and flippers). I will never vote for any GOPer again, as they have lost all reason to exist as a party.

    May 1, 2013 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
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