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. Nodack

    It's true, the ONLY thing that matters to Republicans is getting even with Obama. If he said he supported breathing air, thousands of Republicans would try to suffocate themselves just to spite him. If you gave them the choice of fixing our economy or making Obama look bad they would choose making Obama look bad every time.

    May 1, 2013 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  2. crimson

    The GOP was representing their constituents. Yes, its politicized, big NEWS on that one. Most of the country doesnt agree with all that the Dems are trying to do with gun control, even some of the Dems voted against it. They were worried about re-election also. You see, WE THE PEOPLE still believe in the Constitution and the 2nd Amendment.

    May 1, 2013 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  3. Bob

    So typical. Republicans are not loyal Americans, and haven't been for many years. Party above country. They are also, generally, not educated or moral people. It is such a shame to see how far the so-called conservative party has fallen. I'll be Dwight Eisenhower would be disgusted with what the party has turned out to be, although, by choosing nixon as is VP, he started the destruction.

    May 1, 2013 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  4. Markm5000

    That is just terrible. Shame on you GOP, childish, utterly irresponsible, and ultimately will cost more many more lives. Well done. Shameful.

    May 1, 2013 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  5. keith mims

    until something happen to them and their they will vote no the Gop don't care about white kids or any other kids getting killed,they not like their president but hand is not on the trigger, it is yours Gop and iam your boss so 2014 u killer of kids r out and then our kids will b safe thanks 4caring Mr.President may god b with u and your family.

    May 1, 2013 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  6. Cephus

    You can't do the right thing to solve a huge problem just because you don't want to be associated with your opponent? Then I tell you what GOP have no business with the people go serve your masters the corporate terrorists.

    May 1, 2013 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  7. Reckless

    Every Senator who voted against the Toomey Manchin bill should have to publicly explain themselves. They should be pulled infront of a committee of the public and answer OUR questions until WE are satisfied. It's crazy that they think they don't have to answer the publics questions about why they voted the way they did.
    We need to reform campaign finance.If citizen one stands then we should have access to the financial information of every politician who runs for office and where their money is coming from. They pass bills about the FAA when they go on vacation and they vote against a campaign reform bills that would expose them. The only people they protect is themselves. I want to know what motivates the votes, since it's obviously not their constituents.......

    May 1, 2013 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  8. Tom

    Don't do what is right for the country because you want to hurt the President. The electorate should bounce the repubs out on their buts for their failure to do what is right.

    May 1, 2013 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  9. barney

    The reason the gun control issue failed is because the bills attacked the second amendment an tens of thousands of Americans called their legislators. if the legislature votes against the will of the people then it the wrong choice, dummy!

    May 1, 2013 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  10. bobby frank

    I find this ridiculous that this bill could not pass and yes I think he is right that it's all about voting against the president. Everyone of you that voted against this bill should be ashamed of yourselves. The lack of background checks at these gun shows is shocking for something that is so dangerous. Along with a background check, there should also be training of the rules of good gun ownership as well in my opinion. I am certainly glad i don't have your job cause I don't think I could live with the thought that I did nothing to make this just alittle bit harder for some crazy to buy any kind of gun he wants without a background check. ......Amazing!

    May 1, 2013 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  11. VCMD

    5 Democratic senators also voted against the measure! Why Obama is not blaming them? Because they are democrats! Obama has used every opportunity to use White House as an advertising agency for Democratic Party and for attacking republicans! If he instead focused on getting the work done, USA would be in a much better shape!

    May 1, 2013 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  12. Deb in MT

    "..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.
    That could be said about anything–ANYTHING–this duly elected and reelected President has tried to do.

    And, that–ladies and gentlemen–is why our beloved nation is floundering.Thanks GOTP, and we'll remember this intransigence in 2014.

    May 1, 2013 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  13. dmf

    Sen. Toomey confirmed President Obama’s remarks on GOP votes , at White House news conference yesterday . President Obama was very correct that GOP members of caucus before any votes on issues of major national importance , need to have approval through a “permission structure” ! Contrary to governance procedures for members of Congress in Presidential system . Those who betray or fail to follow Republican party 's standard operating procedures , face consequences ! This sounds harsh , as GOP actions on record in Congress would verify , they are united on one agenda item : not to allow President Obama succeed .

    May 1, 2013 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  14. Pete

    Toomeys right and being labeled a turncoat is something republicans don't want or need..They'll fight Pres.Obama as usual till midterms and even then they'll go down fighting because as ignorents goes they thought they didn't do anything wrong just being patriotic when in truth they're being traitors to America and its peoples...Republicans never change,just the same old stuff just a new wrapper that's all!!

    May 1, 2013 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  15. ditdahdit

    "... read the bill and you tell me what you don't like." Does he know who he's dealing with? Maybe if you could work the bills details into a sitcom or reality series you could get understand the main points across, otherwise forget it.

    May 1, 2013 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  16. chet

    If Obama keeps up his holier then thou attitude he fine more of the same!

    May 1, 2013 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  17. TLORop

    Even the republican admit it. They will vote against anything with Obama's name on it even when it makes prefect sense.

    May 1, 2013 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  18. michael

    HELP OBAMA! How about helping everyday innocent American citizens who are getting killed with guns! Repuglicans have would not help Obama pass a righteous bill, if their God "Billy Graham" asked them too! Now, if their other God the "NRA" asked them, the Gun bill measure would have passed!

    May 1, 2013 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  19. William

    Since Obama has been President,

    The GOP has refused to be a partner in governing,


    May 1, 2013 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  20. Al P

    Every American should be outraged by the decision to place appearances over public safety, except that this has happened for so long and so many times against this President in particular, it is no longer suprising (but still outrageous). Instead of graciously understanding the loss taken (given) within fair elections, the desire to wilfully cripple the legislative process not out of ideological differences or concerns, but merely to prevent giving a 'win' to the 'other side' is anti to the founding principles of governance. It is downright dangerous.

    May 1, 2013 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  21. jimmycocobop

    Yeah, we knew that. The Republican cretins care little for the United States of America. They just can't stomach a black man being President.

    Vote them out.

    May 1, 2013 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  22. Frank Blake

    Time for a change in all of Congress – This is shameful – sad.

    May 1, 2013 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  23. sam

    spineless chumps

    May 1, 2013 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |

    toomey and his party have completely paralyzed our government to the point of absurdity. His party – and this is straight from his own mouth – cannot do "the right thing" – even if they wanted to. this party does not deserve to be within 100 miles of our government process – in any capacity. You watch – what happened first in california will be happening all across the country – the GOP is the myspace of political parties.

    May 1, 2013 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  25. stick it

    When it comes to losein civil libs not a chance until libs get it ill never support gay rights this country has gone thru to much to have liberties taken away from the majority give more rights to gays and forieners until libs get it f em!

    May 1, 2013 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
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