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. justme

    Those who defeated this bill to avoid a political win are so far out of touch with reality its pathetic. They would prefer more dead kids to an Obama win on the issue. And that is pathetic. They should be ashamed of themselves.

    May 1, 2013 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  2. NOON

    Toomey, you should address to your lovely democrate too. It is the right of US citizen, not in the hand of government.

    May 1, 2013 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  3. Fred

    "The toughest thing to do in politics is to do the right thing when your supporters think the right thing is something else"

    Isn't he supposed to be representing his supporters in Congress, not fighting for his own idea of a utopian society? This guy doesn't have a clue, and I hope his "supporters" change their minds in the next election.

    May 1, 2013 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  4. Alex in New Jersey

    Please. Pat the law was a joke and would have done nothing to prevent criminal lunatics, we all know it. If the GOP is so bad, put on your donkey hat and change parties. The proposed law was nothing more than Obama propaganda.

    May 1, 2013 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  5. Jonline

    Dear god. Toomey, the tea party republican, is sounding very reasonable. I like it. I am from PA. I get to vote for or against Senator Toomey. Hez's stays the right wing crank and he's a one termed. He tacks to the middle he has a shot in hell. Remember PA is very solidly democratic. The state is gerrymandered republican badly but that won't help the senator. I hope this continues, I want to like the guy

    May 1, 2013 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  6. just wondering

    keepn da boy in hiz plaze

    May 1, 2013 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  7. waheid

    No surprise here! This is what the Republicans in Congress have been doing since Obama was elected. They have essentially sabotaged the U.S. government and that, I contend, is treasonous. The GOP doesn't care what the country needs or wants, just as long as they are in opposition to Obama, then they can claim "mission accomplished." And who is to blame? The people who elected them.

    May 1, 2013 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  8. HenryB

    Another Republican finally saying in public what all of us already knew.

    May 1, 2013 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  9. dnokc

    Toomey is toast.

    May 1, 2013 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  10. Jeff

    It had nothing to do with Obama, rather, it had to do with intelligent officials not wanting to stomp all over the 2nd amendment.

    May 1, 2013 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  11. Hugh Mann

    ~ Ya Think...?

    May 1, 2013 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  12. Rodeo Will

    What a surprise.

    May 1, 2013 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  13. nota bobblehead

    The GOP only will do what is politically expedient for themselves! They are not interested in what is good for America but only what is good for the party of NO. Wake up and vote these people out. We don't need the lies of the war mongers and power brokers with their overseas bank accounts running our country. We the people pay our fair share of taxes while the wealthy are able to dodge their fair share. VOTE THEM OUT.

    May 1, 2013 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Maybe the Republican Party would gain some respect back if they actually made an attempt to work with Democrats for the sake of our country

    May 1, 2013 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  15. kevin doyle

    Is personal hatred and fear more important than the lives of children? NO!! says the GOP!

    May 1, 2013 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  16. CA Liberal

    No surprise there.

    May 1, 2013 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  17. Gerry Daley

    What a surprise....They hate the President so anything he proposes, no matter how worthy, they will oppose. What patriots.

    May 1, 2013 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  18. Homer10

    Yeah, the Republicons only want to help them selves (at the expense of everybody else). We will remember in November 2014. Hay Boehner, have you seen the polls lately. They are going in the wrong direction. Looks like your sales job on the Hispanic voters isn't working very well. While you are trying to attract Hispanic voters, you also might want to look at your relationship with Black voters, Asian voters, Arab voters, Gay voters, and every other voter your party has alienated in the last 12 years. Hmmm.... you have a lot of work to do. Good luck with that.

    May 1, 2013 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  19. Chuk

    Why is this a surprise to anybody? There are Republicans in congress who have never like, or accepted, President Obama as President since 2008. Period. America can talk about how much they've grown, blah, blah, blah but this is the way it is. Although they won't come out and say it. This is one of those inconvenient truths.
    There is no question that some of these law makers would do anything to make the President look bad, regardless of whether an idea is good for the country. It's not about the country and their constituents. It's about their GOP ideology. And it's so strong that they may never get over it no matter how many pathetic attempts they try to "broaden their base".

    May 1, 2013 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  20. BobbyRay

    This could apply to any bill. The GOP want Obama to fail regardless of the cost to the country.

    May 1, 2013 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  21. William Miller

    Although he's simply stating the obvious, it's still amazing to see that even some Republicans are frustrated with the automatic negative reaction the vast majority of Republicans express towards anything and everything that this President proposes, regardless of its popularity with the general public.

    May 1, 2013 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  22. Larry L

    Republicans have obstructed all progress for over 4 years – this is nothing new. They have shown many times they are only motivated by hate, racism and revenge.

    May 1, 2013 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  23. craig

    "The toughest thing to do in politics is to do the right thing when your supporters think the right thing is something else."

    Nope. The toughest thing is to do the right thing when 90% of your supporters think it is exactly that thing, but the people who pay you lots of money don't agree. The toughest thing is to do the right thing when it means that you'll have to share some credit with that Black guy from the other party. Those are the tough things. If you didn't want to do the tough things, then you need to get the heck out of Washington and find a real job where you have to do what the boss tells you, because the people told you and you blew them off. Oh...BTW, you'll be expected to show up to work every day too, and actually produce something tangible for your employer.

    May 1, 2013 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  24. bill

    L am for the bill. but I want to win my next election.

    May 1, 2013 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  25. CHUCK

    Pretty pathetic. How anyone can vote republican after reading this, is beyond me.

    May 1, 2013 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
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