A Republican incumbent forced to run in a blue state during a presidential election year, he had done an extraordinary job of making a name for himself.
He employed a smart strategy of leading the bipartisan effort for gun safety measures while also being the passionate voice for the nation’s police officers.
As a result, he lead in the polls against all three of the potential Democratic challengers who spent months and millions of dollars in intra-party warfare.
Everything seemed to be going perfectly as Toomey sought a second term.
Then, Donald Trump became the presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican party.
Suddenly, Toomey must balance his pursuit of ballot-crossing Democrats with the need to maintain the GOP base. Now, the man who has taken such pains to be seen as independent is in danger of seeing his race become nationalized.
In response to this conundrum, the Senator has written a fascinating editorial for the Philadelphia Inquirer about his own support for (and reservations about) Donald Trump.
“Donald Trump has dominated the political discussion for the better part of the last year,” Toomey begins. “While I would prefer to focus on my work in the U.S. Senate, and on my own campaign for reelection, there is an unlimited interest in all-things Trump, so I’ll offer a few thoughts about the presidential race.”
“Trump was not my first, second, or third choice,” Toomey wrote, which is a statement he has used before and is likely to use many more times this year. “I object to much in his manner and his policies. His vulgarity, particularly toward women, is appalling. His lack of appreciation for Constitutional limits on executive powers is deeply concerning. I disagree with his proposals to ban Muslims, to give government more eminent domain powers, to be neutral between Israel and its enemies, and several others. In short, I find his candidacy highly problematic.”
Sen. Toomey then explains that he will support Trump as the nominee of his party while pointing out that he has also disagreed with past nominees over certain issues.
“That said, Trump is different from previous nominees,” he explained. “There could come a point at which the differences are so great as to be irreconcilable.”
This is a particularly skillful move by the Senator as it allows him to distance himself should Donald Trump become politically toxic over the next six months. Toomey also called for Trump to unite the Grand Old Party, which may have been a response to the New Yorker’s recent comments.
The Senator finished by challenging Trump to listen and learn from this criticism.
“Finally, rather than attacking those who speak a contrary word about you or your positions, consider the value of constructive advice,” the Senator concludes. “Many of your critics are nothing more than political opponents who want your defeat. But some of your critics actually share the deep frustration with the direction of our country and our political class that has propelled your candidacy. Sometimes your critics might have a point. If you listen more, and talk less, you might even win some of them over. You will have to in order to be successful.”
“Would he govern as a conservative?,” the Senator asked. “I’ve got doubts. He’s advocated a complete government takeover of healthcare, expanding government power over eminent domain, that we should be neutral as between Israel and Israel’s enemies. He’s called for higher taxes, it seems, for raising the minimum wage. Over the weekend, renegotiating our national debt. I don’t know what that means.”
Sen. Toomey even indicated that there may come a time when he’ll have to withdraw his support from the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee.
“So I’ve got this set of doubts,” Toomey stated. “My message to Donald Trump is: You need to unite the Republican Party if we’re gonna win this general election. I hope to get to the point where I can enthusiastically support Donald Trump. I’m not there right now and I hope we don’t get to a point where I decide I just can’t support him.”