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. johnymac60

    Blah, blah, blah. Change the party affiliation and a few names and this could be about either party. This is not news.

    May 2, 2013 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  2. MagicPanties

    Let's see what happens to the NRA-beholden senators that are up for election in 2014.
    Should be veddy intadesting...

    May 2, 2013 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  3. want2believe

    -Current law forbids gun registries. The bill doubled down and increased punishment on this.
    -The bill had nothing to do with weapons bans or magazine limits.
    -It was written by a GOP and Dem senator, both of which had A ratings with the NRA.
    -It was endorsed by the The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
    -All it did was close two very obvious loopholes in our current system.
    -Require background checks for private sales at gun shows.
    -Criminalize private advertisements online to buy/sell guns.
    -It had exceptions for transfers among family and friends.

    Why would you be against this?
    -Clearly it wouldn't have stopped Sandy Hook, but that doesn't mean closing those obviously loopholes is a bad idea.
    -Had the Dems tried to stick any further gun control amendments to the bill, it dies in the house and they have no one to blame but themselves.

    May 2, 2013 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  4. JD

    GOP will be wanting to help themselves again in their failed elections coming up in 2014! NRA can brag all it wants, sooner or later the 90% will be heard!

    May 2, 2013 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  5. Erich Schroeder

    Maybe the President should just start pushing for the opposite of every thing he wants.

    May 2, 2013 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  6. rogco

    Shouldn't doing the right thing be the easiest thing for a politician to do?

    May 2, 2013 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  7. Ed1

    Did you even read the bill if you did you would see like every other bill there were to many add on items that had nothing to do with background checks.

    Check the Senate web site and read the bill first all the way thru then make your stupid comments.

    May 2, 2013 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  8. Marshall

    We need more representatives with the balls to do the morally correct thing. Vote those who can't out.

    May 2, 2013 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  9. Larry

    This is why they ALL need to hear the words" YOU'RE FIRED!" We need to start over.

    May 2, 2013 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  10. Ed1

    In case you need some help See Section 122 "Firearms Transfers then tell me why anyone with common sense would have voted for the bill.

    May 2, 2013 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  11. Oh, really?

    The Party of Hatred HAS to behave this way – what was it they said? Oh yeah, that's it: "Our Number One priority is to make sure Obama is a single-term President". Since they failed at that they're obviously doing everything they can to make sure he can't do anything as a second-term President.

    May 2, 2013 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  12. Mark

    They think their job is to stop the President?!? I thought their job was to help the country. How petty and pathetic

    May 2, 2013 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  13. Cambridge Ray

    There are TWO kinds of Conservatives:

    • One group is busy spreading hatred

    • The other group is busy denying that the first group exists

    Don't believe me? Check by yourself: Just scroll up & down. Go to ANY Internet forum.

    May 2, 2013 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  14. Steve - Texas

    Pathetic Republicans would oppose a bill just because Obama supported it.. that is why America is turning their back on this dying Party...

    May 2, 2013 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  15. Anne-Florida

    What, Republicans not wanting to do anything to help the President!!! This has been going on since he took office. They do not care what the people want. Do something for our country??? Crazy thinking. They should all be voted out.

    May 2, 2013 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  16. Bruce

    Really?? GOP not helping the president?? What a shoker!! To them it does not matter what the issue is, weather it is doing what is right for the country, or just decide that not to help the president because they think it makes him looks good. They do not care about the general welfare of the Americans. They still do not understand the demographics.

    May 2, 2013 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  17. GOD

    right pat..thats it kiss up to obama and the combined repuclicrat party. Your disguisting you say one thing and do another...I will remember that

    May 2, 2013 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  18. al

    It's a shame that our government cannot come together and do what the people wanted them to do. Its not just this issue but almost all issues they deal with. All they seem to care about is pushing the party agenda and being able to take credit for something. They have lost the ability or the desire to compromise and to do what is right for the country and the people. No matter what decision they make someone wlll be unhappy with it but you still have to make the decisions.

    May 2, 2013 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  19. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    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.
    Gee, Senator, how about telling us something we don't already know.
    The dimmest amongst us have became fully aware of your "revelation" a couple of years back, in spite of many on your side of the aisle denying it.
    Bill Clinton said it quite succintly at the Democratic Convention last year: "Republicans hate this President".

    May 2, 2013 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  20. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    They're COWARDS!!!

    May 2, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  21. The Truth Speaks

    Exactly what did America expect from the unhappy, unfunny, and very unpatriotic republiclown?

    May 2, 2013 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  22. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    Kelly Ayotte, enjoy your last year and a half in the Senate. Your time is done. I hope the bill doesn't come back up for a vote. There will be no redemption votes.

    May 2, 2013 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  23. Regressive

    I've always known that the GOP has always been and will always be party first and country last. That is why I left the party and won't vote for the party of obstruction and no.

    May 2, 2013 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  24. itsmeagainjah

    love it, it this type o thinkin that gonna lose it for the GOP next prez election. Face it GOP, it a young world, your old world thinking is out like bell bottoms. greed over people is your mind set. love it !

    May 2, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  25. Sandy

    Funny. This is a pretty big admission that everyone needs to hear, but it's only being reported on CNN and Huffingtonpost, but NOWHERE ELSE. And republicans claim (lie) that democrats own the media. Yeah, right!

    May 2, 2013 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
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