Toomey Still Won’t Say Whether He’ll Vote for Trump
Senator Pat Toomey is committed to non-commitment when it comes to his party’s nominee for president.
At a press conference on Thursday, Toomey refused to clarify his position on Donald Trump. In response to questions from reporters, Toomey repeated that he has not endorsed Trump, and said he’s making up his mind about whether to support him.
“As I have said repeatedly, I have not endorsed Donald Trump,” Toomey said. “There are things that he has said, a number of things he has said and done that give me great pause and I have significant concerns about, so I remain in a mode of waiting to be persuaded. I’ve not made a final decision on what I’m going to do. Hillary Clinton is completely unacceptable to me. But I have not changed my mind since I laid out my case in an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and if I do change my mind, I will let you know.”
Toomey initially endorsed Florida Senator Marco Rubio for president. In the op-ed he was referring to, Toomey encouraged Trump to stop saying so many divisive things and seek to unite the Republican Party. Trump had not united the party behind his candidacy in May, when Toomey’s op-ed was published, and he has failed to unite the party in the ensuing months, refusing to endorse major party figures John McCain and Paul Ryan as recently as last week.
And then, on Wednesday, Trump told a crowd of supporters that “Second Amendment people” might have a unique way to deal with Clinton and her judicial nominees if she were elected president. It sure sounded — in a cavalier, wink-wink-nudge sort of way — like he was suggesting that gun owners could shoot Clinton or her nominees, though his campaign quickly insisted that he meant gun owners should unify against Clinton on Election Day.
“I don’t know what he meant by that,” Toomey said Thursday. “He has attempted to clarify that. At a minimum it was certainly a very careless expression, but as I said, I have not changed my mind about this situation. If and when I do I will let you know.”
Toomey was mentioned alongside a handful of other prominent Republicans in a New York Times report earlier this week about Trump’s campaign stumbles hurting Republicans in other races. The latest polls show Clinton with a firm lead in Pennsylvania, which both campaigns consider a key battleground state.
“People in Pennsylvania are smart enough to know there are two races going on,” Toomey said Thursday. “One is for President of the United States. The other is for United States Senate.”
So, what could Trump do to earn Toomey’s support?
“I don’t have a checklist for you,” he said. “I’m going watch as this campaign evolves.”
Toomey’s comments came during a press conference he had called to remind reporters of his opposition to Philadelphia’s “sanctuary cities” policy, which keeps local police from automatically handing undocumented immigrants over to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers for deportation in many cases. Recently, Philadelphia police arrested a Honduran immigrant on suspicion that he had raped a 13-year-old child. ICE said in a press release earlier this month that it has requested that the city turn over the suspect, who was deported from the U.S. in 2009, re-entered the country illegally, and was previously held by Philadelphia police in 2014 before having charges against him dropped.
Toomey appeared with Martina White, a state representative from Northeast Philadelphia, who has sponsored legislation in Harrisburg that would hold sanctuary cities liable for damages resulting from crimes that are committed there by undocumented immigrants. Toomey sponsored legislation of his own that would withhold important federal Community Development Block Grant funding from cities that don’t turn undocumented immigrants over to ICE. The Senate voted that bill down in June.
Toomey has criticized Katie McGinty, his Democratic opponent in the Senate race, for having what he says is an unclear position on the sanctuary cities policy. He repeated on Thursday that McGinty had staked out an incoherent take on the policy in a letter she sent to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.
“If you look at the letter, it just completely obfuscates, refuses to take a position, refuses to demand that Philadelphia change this policy,” he said. “She rejects my solution, which would solve this problem, so she’s part of the problem here.”
For her part, McGinty has criticized Toomey for having an incoherent position on Donald Trump.
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