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. Mark Acay

    It's unfortunate the Republicans block every legislation the President try to accomplish. His presidency is doomed not because of the President but because of the GOPs. Why, because of the President's race. In the meantime, the whole country suffers.

    May 2, 2013 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  2. Shame on you legislators

    Shame on you – republicans and democrats alike – for being cowards and avoiding doing the right thing!!!! You let down 90% of the nation. Why not require a background check for gun purchases!?!? It's a no-brainer. I want the lights cameras and mics to be placed directly in front of you immediately after the next unfortunate mass shooting. Media will ask you, " what have you done to prevent or curb these events from happening?"you will likely have to admit you exhibited cowardly actions on one potentially life-changing day!

    By the way, STOP the sequestration !!! You are hurting innocent kids and seniors alike.'

    May 2, 2013 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  3. TimB

    When dislike for a president makes you vote against the wishes of 90% of the country, there will be a price to paid for that hate.

    The GOP hates Obama more than they love their own country....really, what other conclusion can one reach?

    May 2, 2013 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  4. Chutzpah

    GOP filth

    May 2, 2013 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  5. Truth Partner 12

    GOP wants to follow the U.S. Constitution, therefore not going along with Pres. Obama is necessary much of the time.
    If you want gun control, move somewhere that has it already.

    May 2, 2013 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  6. mike

    This is about the citizens of the United States, if true what Toomey said then republicans really need to go. They only care what the rich think.

    May 2, 2013 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  7. fibsernum

    These small-minded, peevish, cowardly, so-called representatives are traitors to their duty to represent the best interests of the people over the greed of the gun-seller's lobby and its simple-minded followers. We have to have term limits before we can expect any responsible action from self-interested, sell-out career politicians.

    May 2, 2013 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  8. tony

    Racism, pure and simple.

    May 2, 2013 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  9. tammyk tammy

    The Republican message: Our hatred toward and need to stop this brown half breed trumps your dead child shot down in a classroom, it trumps your need for healthcare when you're sick, it trumps your need for work to feed your family, it trumps diplomacy with other nations instead of more war, it trumps your rights to make decisions about your own body and who you chose to love, it trumps the need for renewable energy sources and a cleaner environment, it trumps getting this country back in sound financial order and ad infinitum..... The New and Improved Republican Remessaging: Despite all of this Obama Obstruction, we really really really want you to vote for us anyway, especially all of you Hispanics who we would like to deport if only we had the chance to go back in time and round you all up before you got settled in.

    May 2, 2013 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  10. josephbernardphd

    This is the narrowness of the ego-mind at work. It wants to be right and in control so it votes against gun control to keep the President from winning. This has been going on for 4.5 years. The hatred for the Obama is because the GOP is not in the presidency (also some racism is apparent). The presidents policies are very similar to Mr Bush's. I am frankly very disappointed the same old crap is going on whatever party in in control. Toomey and his pals have been obstructing for all this time at great cost to the people of this country. I wish politics would grow up past teenage, power struggles. There are many important issues that need real solutions not blaming and whining.

    May 2, 2013 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  11. SkyKing169

    How sad. Republicans care more about winning, in their twisted perspective, than America and Americans. It's time to eliminate them from national office.

    May 2, 2013 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  12. Larry Hoover

    I hate to use the R word but that is the biggest issue keeping the GOP from doing the right thing on several issues.
    it is as simple as white against black

    May 2, 2013 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  13. DW

    We the people spoke. Its not about politics or policy, WE chose.

    May 2, 2013 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  14. kemikal

    VOTE EVERY REPUBLICAN OUT OF OFFICE!! If you required proof that they do NOT and will NEVER put the American people first (majority that is), here you go. But, I'm sure we can't all come together to make our voices heard.....simply because all many can see is skin color. Congress should be ousted anyway at the change of presidencies. VOTE THEM OUT and make American voices heard.

    May 2, 2013 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  15. Texasmike

    Exactly right....and the polarization is based on more willful spitefulness than ideological lines.

    May 2, 2013 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  16. Henry Knouse

    It seems that the Republicans only care about is getting President Obama. They don't care about the nation as long as they have victory over the President. What a pack of losers

    May 2, 2013 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  17. steve in SD

    Oh, it's so nice to know that being re-elected is more important than the welfare and well-being of 330M Americans.

    May 2, 2013 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  18. Man of Steel

    Everyone knew what Toomey finally said aloud.

    May 2, 2013 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  19. smartPOTUS

    This is why I vote Dems! And yes, I voted for Reagan twice.

    May 2, 2013 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  20. Capone

    Don't hold your breath. Nothing will be done.

    All we can hope for is that the gun jams at next mass shooting so that the body count isn't as high. That is best we can hope for in this country anymore.

    May 2, 2013 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  21. JLS1950

    Republicans would cut off their noses if they thought they had blown a Democratic snot!

    May 2, 2013 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  22. Ralph Celi

    I have been saying this over and over. The stupidity of our politician has criminal intent, overall when a sequester affects our security, and as a consequences American People die.

    May 2, 2013 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  23. tammyk tammy

    Considering the latest shooting story from earlier today, the new NRA/Rupug mantra is - Guns don't kill people, irresponsible 5 year olds playing with guns they think are toys kill people.

    May 2, 2013 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  24. Ozzie

    Republicans are the most evil, un-American, un patriotic people on the planet.

    May 2, 2013 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  25. Rina

    Wow – the GOP doesn't want to work with Obama. Nothing new there. But the voters will remember in 2016.

    May 2, 2013 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
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