CAMP HILL, Pa. – Capping off a difficult week, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey addressed a crowd of Pennsylvania conservatives outside Harrisburg on Friday afternoon, acknowledging both his support for new gun control measures that have angered many conservatives and the failure of those proposals in the Senate this week.
Toomey did not apologize for his support of legislation that would have enhanced background checks on those who want to purchase firearms, and instead offered a detailed explanation of what was in the legislation and why he had proposed it. He spent more than nine minutes of his 30 minute remarks discussing the gun issue.
In the end, he said he hoped to “agree to disagree” with conservatives angered by it.
“We had the vote on Wednesday. I lost. I get that. I think this issue is probably settled for now,” Toomey said.
He also promised to resume his focus on economic issues, winning him cheers from the conservative crowd inside the Radisson ballroom in suburban Harrisburg.
WASHINGTON — The Senate’s rejection of a plan to expand background checks for gun purchasers was a public policy failure but not necessarily a political one for Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, who bucked his party to sponsor the legislation.
The first-term Republican’s attempts to bridge the policy gap endeared him to moderates and Democrats even as it alienated him from conservatives who now are angry, disappointed and pledging to hasten his ouster at re-election time in 2016.
President Barack Obama thanked Mr. Toomey for his courage in sponsoring the controversial background checks bill, which failed Wednesday to get the needed 60 votes in the Senate.
Even the head of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party had unusual praise for him. But at the other end of the political spectrum, some once-loyal supporters abruptly turned their backs on the senator because they saw his legislation as an infringement on the right to bear arms.