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. Homer Simpson

    Vote them out already

    May 2, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  2. us_1776

    You've got a HUGE percentage of the public that wants some kind of common sense rules placed around gun ownership such as background checks.

    And yet you've got the GOP who will do ANYTHING to prevent ANY legislation from passing while a black man is in the White House.

    These next elections in 2014 and 2016 could well spell the end of the GOP.

    And none too soon.


    May 2, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  3. As-if

    Hmm.... or just maybe some of our representatives did not want to pass a flawed bill, that had ZERO chance of reducing criminally insane people from committing heinous acts, but rather possibly infringing on the second amendment constitutional rights of law abiding citizens, which, lets face it, has ALWAYS been on the presidents radar. The fact that the POTUS just chose to bathe in the blood of the recent tragedy to advance his political agenda is the real creepy thing in my opinion.

    May 2, 2013 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  4. Edward

    If Politicians think that it's justified to not do the right thing because they don't like someone they have no business doing our business in Washington. If the people want something done and the majority agree, it should be done. If Politicians don't do the work their sent to do they need to be sent home, never to work in any area of politics. Finally if a Politician thinks his only job is to stay in office at all cost he doesn't belong in politics. The only people who should be elected into any office are those who don't try an stop people from voting and always do the right thing regardless of the outcome of an election. That's the kind of politician this country needs not some whiners who don't want to play ball. If they have to work very hard to make someone look bad, that says that person is worse than the one they attack. If they have to try that hard to make themselves look good they were no good to begin with.

    May 2, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  5. quinLee

    "In the end, it didn't pass because we're so politicized."

    That's a kind way to put it. I can think of a few more terms and phrases that are more accurate.

    May 2, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  6. Randy

    This Toomey clown sounds like a RINO.

    May 2, 2013 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  7. A. Goodwin

    As a resident from NH, I am ashamed of Kelly Ayotte's vote. She is a coward, and I will do everything in my power to help whomever will challenge her in the 2016 election. Nice of her to tell NH that she would vote FOR this bill, only to turn around and vote against it. COWARD!!

    Those in the GOP think she is ready to become president? Please – here in NH her time is slowly coming to an end. She does not stand with NH...she stands with the corporate masters of the GOP. She does not speak for her constituents, and the people of NH.

    May 2, 2013 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  8. Plantkiller

    Politicians are all just a pack of selfish monsters.

    May 2, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  9. wally

    "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."

    Yup. That about says it. In case you Senators have not noticed, it is not about the President, it is about the people that voted for you. For pity's sake grow the bleep up! I just wish Tommey would say which ones, but the man is smart and not politically suicidal. My respect for him has gone up, again.

    May 2, 2013 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  10. Jim Marler

    The state if the GOP is very disgusting. They have brought harm to this country.

    May 2, 2013 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  11. Jim Marler

    The state of the GOP is very disgusting. They have brought great harm to this country.

    May 2, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  12. Wake up People!

    Bye bye Senator Toomey, you will now be labeled a traitor for simply telling the truth. Something most people with half a brain already know. The republicans decided back in 2008, that ANYTHING the POTUS was for, they would be against.

    I was reading one of the suburban newspapers in my area a few months back. In the Macomb Daily, there was an article about new gun laws. The GOP members stated they have no problem with new gun laws, but they absolutely refuse to vote for anything that "Obama"* is for.

    *I put Obama in quotes to show their lack of respect for him by refusing to call him President Obama.

    May 2, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  13. Dennis Freeman

    Gee, what a surprise! The Tea Party/GOP hates President Obama more than they care for the country and its people.

    May 2, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  14. Ron in SC

    Really? I never would have guessed. He is a real master of the obvious and his statement holds true for the entire time the President has been in office on everything. Yes, these guys are actually getting paid for doing nothing.

    May 2, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  15. Jesse

    Armani Barron- well then go to a true democracy we are a bloody republic, I want to see a true poll with honest questions on the gun control topic, not one sided questions like cnn " If background checks could save more childrens lives would you vote for them?" Well duh who wouldn't but that is a baited question that is like me saying " A gun in every home would save more childrens lives would you vote yes to see a gun in every home?" It is a baited question therefore has no true meaning.

    May 2, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  16. Ed

    Exactly how is a gun control bill that even supports agree would actually complish next to nothing to reduce gun violence and couldn't even stop the school shooting that happened be a "good idea". That is the real problem – politicians come up with "solutions" that sound good but accomplish nothing. Want to reduce gun viollence – life in prision for anyone using a gun to committ a felony. Put that up for a vote and let's see if the Democrats really want to reduce gun violence.

    May 2, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  17. Tim

    Maybe, just maybe, they took a stand with the 2nd in mind. Also, if they are worried about re-election, then the measures were not a popular as the anti-gun propaganda would have us believe. In all the so called Polls, a vast majority is in favor of gun control measures, but in reality, the polls are skewed to get a high result. If we as a country would just enforce the rule of law on the books, it would have more punch if new laws were needed. But as a rule, only law abiding citizens follow the rule of law.

    May 2, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  18. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    This is no surprise. Long before President Obama took office in 2009, the GOP said they wanted the President and the country to fail! And yet there are still some black people in this country going around behaving as though Jim Crow no longer exists in America. Mr. Carson, Mr. Steele, Mr. Cain, Ms... please wake up!

    May 2, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  19. ex-sarge

    1. we need publically funded campaigns (no PACs, no secret donors, no corporate money, no mega-donors, this means you Sheldon Adelson)
    2. get rid of the partisan districting, districts should be determined by population numbers, not political leanings
    3. get rid of the media monopolies (this way we at least have a shot at someone, somewhere giving us news not spin)
    4. term limits for Senators, Congressmen, and the Supreme Court (why should we just limit the President?)

    May 2, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    GI Joe

    GOP willing to destroy USA to make one black man look bad.
    The first post on this story got it right.
    A God awful shame for our country and these so-called representatives of the people.

    May 2, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  21. 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.

    May 2, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  22. Wake up People!


    Don't you mean his uppity attitude?? Pathetic.

    May 2, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    no doubt...BUT the dems woulda done the same in a heartbeat
    A few bad apples can be found everywhere I grant you that.
    Unfortunately we've all had a chance to see these past 5 years that the Republican crop was uniformly rotten; the few that weren't were promptly removed from the bushel.

    May 2, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  24. Mark

    In the long run this will hurt the NRA. More attention has been brought to this issue and the public is fed up with that organization's attitude. They will not stop until something is done. To not pass that bill is wrong, wrong, wrong.

    May 2, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  25. ToldUSo

    Gotta hand it to the Republicants. They've figured out how to skrew most Americans when they're in office and when they aren't.

    May 2, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
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