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Pat Toomey: Moderate?



Former Rep. Pat Toomey comes out in favor of Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Former Rep. Pat Toomey penned an editorial this morning in the Philadelphia Inquirer in support of the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court, the latest in a series of moves by the Pennsylvania Republican to move to the ideological middle in advance of next year's Senate race.

"If I were a U.S. senator, I would vote for her confirmation, because objective qualifications should matter more than ideology in the judicial confirmation process," wrote Toomey.

Toomey goes on to note that while he was "troubled" by Sotomayor's now-famous "wise Latina" remark and her decision in the Ricci case, he examined her record and came to the conclusion that it "shows no pattern of systematic bias".

Toomey's support for Sotomayor puts him in a relatively small group of Republicans backing President Barack Obama's nominee. To date, Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Olympia Snowe (Maine), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Mel Martinez (Fla.), Richard Lugar (Ind.) and Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) are the only Republicans to announce that they will vote for Sotomayor's confirmation. Former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, the party's nominee for governor in New Jersey, has also voiced support for Sotomayor. (The Senate is expected to vote on Sotomayor later tonight or tomorrow morning.)

It's also a recognition on Toomey's behalf that he must find ways to change the image of himself as an arch conservative if he hopes to win in Democratic-leaning Pennsylvania.

As we have written before, the Democratic primary fight between Sen. Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak gives Toomey an opening as news coverage in the state will be dominated by what promises to be a bitter and costly battle.

Take Sestak's official entry into the race this morning (finally!), a move that was greeted by a decidedly harsh statement from Specter campaign manager Chris Nicholas. "His months of indecisiveness on his candidacy raises a real question as to his competency to handle the tough rapid-fire decisions required of a Senator," said Nicholas of Sestak.

For those who pooh-pooh Toomey's ability to move to the middle while Sestak and Specter bludgeon one another, don't forget that prior to his work as the president of the conservative-minded Club For Growth, Toomey spent six years in Congress representing what was then a swing seat. Former Vice President Al Gore and Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) each carried the 15th district in their respective presidential bids and President Obama carried it by 13 points last November.

Toomey's strongly conservative positioning as head of the Club will almost certainly be used against him next fall no matter how many op-eds he writes or moderate positions he adopts. But, Toomey's support for Sotomayor shows that he understands he must move toward the ideological middle if he hopes to win and is doing everything he can to get there.

By Chris Cillizza  |  August 4, 2009; 10:40 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Comments

Or like gay Republicans.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | August 4, 2009 5:31

Which dwindling breed do you think will go entirely extinct first, gay Republicans or latino Republicans?

Posted by: light_bearer | August 10, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I think I predicted that Sotomayor will get less "no" votes than CJ Roberts did. Republicans have principles (unlike SENATOR Obama, who should thank God that the GOP won't stoop to his level in confirmation voting).
Posted by: JakeD | August 4, 2009 10:47 AM

Every single remaining Republican senator could try to filibuster Sotomayor and it wouldn't work. Obama only needs to thank Bush, Palin, etc. for destroying your party. And 9 Republican senators had enough "principles" to vote for Sotomayor. More than twice that many Democrats voted for Roberts.

Posted by: light_bearer | August 10, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

@drindl: armpeg is just another dottydo or zouk or JakeD, totally nutso. These guys don't live in the same reality the rest of us live in, they live in a dark and hostile world surrounded by enemies and plots.

Imagine the effort it must take to keep up their belief. Like adults who manage to go on believing in Santa Claus.

Or like gay Republicans.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | August 4, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Oneof the things that amazes me most about wingers like armpeg is their lack of any sort of self awareness. He goes on this rant spewing vileness of all sorts and then ends by saying Sotomayor belongs to a hate cult.

The 'hate cult' is the republican base, jackoff.

Posted by: drindl | August 4, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

where did armpeg read that mess? Oh, yeah, they were were his reported exact words culled from one of those conservative magazines (100 or so subscribers) that come with their own tin foil hat stapled in the middle.

armeg -- you're going to have to find better sources and be a little more exact in your details if you want to persuade anyone -- otherwise you are just spewing paranoid, divisive lies. Now THAT sounds like Hitler.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | August 4, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Since the Democrap Socialist Party is in total control and can't stop this racist from being appointed anyway,

==

Why don't you take this crap over to stormfront and hump the legs of the trailer trash swine over there.

"Democrap Socialist Party"

how bloody childish

Posted by: chrisfox8 | August 4, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

We'll see.

Posted by: JakeD | August 4, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Santorum lost his last election by SEVENTEEN POINTS.

He lost because he's an arch-conservative. Toomey is also an arch-conservative, he will lose widely as well.

Some people don't live in reality.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | August 4, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

armpeg:

Too bad you aren't a member if the Senate Judiciary Committee. Too bad Sessions and the rest had NO IDEA that Sotomayor was associated with la Raza. If only you could have warned them....

Oh, wait. They knew all about these baseless accusations, and wouldn't touch them with a 10-foot pole. Sorry your Republican Senators let you down. Sucks to be you, huh?

Posted by: mikeinmidland | August 4, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

So what's the big deal when Pat Toomey say's that he'd vote for Sonia Sotomayors appointment if he could?
Since the Democrap Socialist Party is in total control and can't stop this racist from being appointed anyway, a few Republicans will probably vote for her (or claim that they would in Pat's case) just to try to look good for the few Hispanic votes that they might get in the elections. The Republican Senators with integrity and principals however--as well as a sense of doing the right thing and what's in the interests of America--will vote against her because Sotomayor is a racist and no racist should sit on the US Supreme Court. It's not just because of her 'wise Latina being better than a white man' remark, or her racist decision in the Ricci case, it's her long time membership in the racist hate cult La Rasa. This Nazi-like bund is a group that cloaks themselves in a civil rights mantel, but is more like the Hispanic version of KKK. Here's some exerts from a speech Professor Jose Angel Gutierrez, founder of La Raza, once told graduating Hispanic students at Berkley, Ca. several years ago, and were reported and published in a few conservative news magazines (I cut these out and saved them, so they're his exact words, although condensed) "We have an aging white America, they are dying, they are shi*ing in their pants with fear. I love it! We have got to eliminate the gringo, and what I mean by that is that if the worst comes to the worst, we have got to kill him"
This hate cult is what Sonia Sotomayor has been a member of and has supported all of her adult life. Her appointment would be like appointing David Duke.

Posted by: armpeg | August 4, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

The Whigs can win in Pennsylvania.

James Cooper (W) served from March 4, 1849 to March 3, 1855 in the seat currently held by Sen Specter (D).

Posted by: bsimon1 | August 4, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Toomey can win. In 1994, Santorum was elected to the U.S. Senate, defeating the incumbent Democrat, Harris Wofford, who was 32 years his senior. The theme of Santorum's 1994 campaign was "Join the Fight!" Santorum was re-elected in 2000 defeating Congressman Ron Klink by a 52.4% to 45.5% margin.

Posted by: JakeD | August 4, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Indeed. Republicans aren't blocking the vote because they can't. So they are making a virtue of necessity.

It's easy for Toomey to say he would vote for Sotomayor, because he can't. No black mark against him in the NRA's little book.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | August 4, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

@dbw1 - Obama (and Clinton) voted against Roberts for 1 reason: they were running for president. It can all be couched in whatever terms you like, but that was the fundamental reason.

Grassley and Hatch are voting against Sotomayor for payback. Nothing more, nothing less. Everybody knows that the "wise Latina" comment was just a chance to rake Sotomayor over the coals for a few days, because not a single opinion was changed. Republicans were claiming up or down practically as a constitutional principle. Now, it's the fact that the Dems have the votes to cut off cloture. If the Senate were 55 -45, you can bet that they'd be ordering the Depends.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | August 4, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Talk about a wolf in sheep's clothing. Let's all line up so we can have a blanket thrown over our eyes. The fact is, this guy makes Rush Limpaugh (sic) look like a flaming liberal.

Posted by: ebabin | August 4, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Oh pish and tush, Toomey's like a fish in a disappearing lake. He's flopping around and making ripples but there's not enough water left to survive. He can try to rebrand himself as a moderate but the GOP has made it clear that moderation ain't their program. He doesn't have a chance, and that's good. Right-wing politics is bad for America, we've had enough of it.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | August 4, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Maybe he should move to Russia so he could vote for Sarah Palin.

Posted by: drindl | August 4, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

"I am thinking about moving to PA to volunteer and vote for Toomey"


JakeD: patron saint of lost causes.


.

Posted by: bsimon1 | August 4, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

bsimon1:

Thank you for the clarification (DISCLAIMER: I am thinking about moving to PA to volunteer and vote for Toomey ; )

Posted by: JakeD | August 4, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

REQUIRED READING TO RUN IN THE ALABAMA OF THE NORTHEAST


Since Pennsylvania is a Ground Zero for the neo-fascist Gestapo apparatus that was spawned or expanded under Bush-Cheney GOP rule (and continues under a naive Obama administration), may I suggest this essential first-hand reporting to Mr. Toomey, Mr. Specter, and Mr. Sestak:

http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america

OR (if link is corrupted / disabled):

See "GESTAPO USA" at http://NowPublic.com/scrivener ("stream" or "stories" list).


Posted by: scrivener50 | August 4, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

"Well, I'm a left winger and I don't think Sotomayor ought to be confirmed. Moreover, I am shocked and disappointed that the Democrats are seemingly marching lockstep, like so many lemmings in confirming her. With roughly half of voters opposed to her confirmation you would think you might find at least a few opposed, but noooo. Morons."

LOL you're a left-winger? You're RABIDLY anti-gay, RABIDLY anti-woman. You mock pro-choicers.

You need to look in the mirror.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | August 4, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

You ought to try actually reading the actual Constitution, dtw, rathr than referring to the one in your head.

Posted by: drindl | August 4, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

dbw1 is cute. Toomey says he would vote for her because he's a conservative and that's what conservatives do. But what about all the conservative Senators who won't vote for her? Well, its because Obama has politicized the process so much, so its ok.

If you believe that, then you should listen to his ideas on the phantom 2006 Connecticut primary where Joseph Lieberman didn't lose.

Posted by: DDAWD | August 4, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Article I, Section. 8.

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes; .....;--And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
-----------

That's a pretty broad authority, and for good reason. Anything Congress does, a new Congress can undo in two years, if the voters don't like it and turn the bums out. And the Prez can veto it, and the USSC can overturn it if it's unconstitutional.

If the gummint wants to set a minimum wage, that's within their purview in terms of regulating commerce. Ditto if they want to buy up old gas guzzlers and crush them.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | August 4, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Fine, Toomey is getting some milage from a cogent op-ed supporting a well-qualified candidate for the Supreme Court.

Wait till we hear his positions on a woman's right to choose, gun ownership, taxes, government oversight of industry, deregulation of the financial industry, the environment, and social safety nets for consumers and employees. Hah! He saves all his sympathy and care for the big boys.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | August 4, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

gop moderate? the snipe hunt continues. a clue: you'll find one right next to a gop centrist.

Posted by: nodebris | August 4, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

drindl:

Great post on Thomas. Could you cite the sections of the Constitution that grant Congress the authority to require private companies to provide certain benefits and minimum levels of wages?

Keep in mind, as I know it's hard for liberals to do, that judges are not legislators. They (are supposed) to look at the Constitution FIRST, and any relevant precedents, and decide a case based on how the law reads.

Thomas never said that minimum wages, AML, ADA, or any other New Deal or Great Society are bad themselves. He simply looked at a Constitution and saw that those powers were never given to Congress.

If liberals believe Congress should have those powers, it's simple: enact an Amendment. Our constitution was designed with this process for just these types of issues since our founders knew they could not possibly foresee every issue to come.

However, liberals don't like the messy democratic process. They would rather just stack courts with activist judges who can short-circuit the process and demand implementation of laws by fiat instead.

Posted by: dbw1 | August 4, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

drindl:
"The Blindness of the Right. Amazing."

I offered proof of how the Democrats have politicized the process...want more?
"There is absolutely no doubt in my mind Judge Roberts is qualified to sit on the highest court in the land."

Those are Obama's words, not mine. Yet Obama voted against confirming Roberts out of his concern over how Roberts may decide 5% of cases. That, drindl, is what is called "politicizing" the confirmation process.

Once again all you have to offer is a dismissive ad hominem attack when you lack anything of substance to contribute to the discussion....which seems to be quite frequently.

Posted by: dbw1 | August 4, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Rightwingers don't want activist judges -- unless they're rightwingers:

'One day after he warned that Republicans have a “very, very deep hole that we’ve got to come out of” with Latino voters, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) announced that he would oppose the first Latina nominated to the nation’s highest court. Moreover, in his statement opposing Judge Sonia Sotomayor, McCain misrepresents his own record on judges:

Again and again, Judge Sotomayor seeks to amend the law to fit the circumstances of the case, thereby substituting herself in the role of a legislator. … To protect the equal, but separate roles of all three branches of government, I cannot support activist judges that seek to legislate from the bench. I have not supported such nominees in the past, and I cannot support such a nominee to the highest court in the land.

Despite his claim that he has never supported a judge who “seeks to amend the law to fit the circumstances of the case,” McCain voted in favor of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito; and he described both Roberts and Alito as “model judges” during the 2008 campaign. A few of these three justices’ greatest hits include:

Repealing the Twentieth Century: In three opinions that read like a tea-bagger’s wet dream, Justice Thomas would have restricted Congress’ power to enact economic regulation to a point unheard of since the Great Depression. A short list of laws that would simply cease to exist in Clarence Thomas’s America includes “the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the sick leave portions of the Family and Medical Leave, the Freedom of Access to Clinics Act, as well as minimum wage and maximum hour laws.”
Selling Justice To The Highest Bidder: Roberts, Thomas and Alito all joined dissents arguing that a West Virginia coal magnate could literally buy a judge for $3 million to overturn a verdict against his company.
Corporate Immunity From the Law: Joined by Roberts, Alito wrote a dissent arguing that drug companies have almost-total immunity from the law when one of their dangerous products caused a former professional musician to lose her arm and her ability to play music. Roberts, Thomas and Alito also joined a majority opinion giving sweeping immunity to the makers of dangerous medical devices.

Massive Resistance: All three justices joined a radical opinion which not only held that it is unconstitutional for school boards to desegregate public schools, but which audaciously cited Brown v. Board of Education for this proposition.

Posted by: drindl | August 4, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Well, I'm a left winger and I don't think Sotomayor ought to be confirmed. Moreover, I am shocked and disappointed that the Democrats are seemingly marching lockstep, like so many lemmings in confirming her. With roughly half of voters opposed to her confirmation you would think you might find at least a few opposed, but noooo. Morons.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | August 4, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

"The problem is Democrats have so politicized this nomination process"

LOL. The Blindness of the Right. Amazing.

Posted by: drindl | August 4, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I wrote
"He can say it, but does anyone believe him?"

But should have written:
"He can say it, but does anyone who's unsure of whether to vote for him or the D believe him?"

In other words, will voters say "Oh, maybe he's not so bad" or will they say "He's obviously taking advantage of not having to actually cast the vote and saying one thing in order to get elected, even though if forced to vote he'd bend to the NRA's will and vote against Judge Sotomayor, particularly in an election year in which he needs their money & machine to get elected."

Posted by: bsimon1 | August 4, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

JakeD:

You are correct. I'm one of the right-wingers who have been saying all along that Sotomayor should be confirmed, because if you are truly conservative you view the Senate power of 'advise and consent' in a very limited way. A President's nominee should usually be confirmed regardless of ideological bend.

So liberals should not be surprised when a conservative like Toomey decides to vote FOR Sotomayor. They should be surprised if a so-called conservative says they will vote AGAINST her, as it runs counter to conservative interpretation of constitutional powers.

The problem is Democrats have so politicized this nomination process over the past 20+ years, they believe every vote on a SC nominee needs to be a referendum on party politics.

Take Obama's vote against Roberts. By his own admission he agreed with how Roberts would dispense with 95% of cases (2005 WSJ editorial). Yet Obama still found reason to vote against him....because in 5% of cases Roberts MIGHT vote in a direction that was different than Obama's left-wing ideology.

Posted by: dbw1 | August 4, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

bsimon1:

I believe him.

Posted by: JakeD | August 4, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Smart move by Toomey. The right-wing base will forgive him for moves such as this, because they know he's just positioning for the general election. There may be a primary challenge from the right, but not strong enough to beat him, and the net result would be to make him seem, again, more moderate.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | August 4, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

This doesn't prove that Toomey's a moderate. It only proves that unlike the rest of the Republican Party, he's spart enough to understand that it's dumb politics to oppose the first Hispanic, and only the third female, nominee to the Supreme Court, who also happens to be perfectly qualified, experienced and well within the mainstream of judicial philosophy and approach (though not the mainstream of radical right-wing politics).

Posted by: jbentley4 | August 4, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Toomey can run but he can't hide from his record.

The Sotomeyor business is so much transparent BS.

Posted by: drindl | August 4, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

"If I were a U.S. senator, I would vote for her confirmation, because objective qualifications should matter more than ideology in the judicial confirmation process," wroteToomey.


He can say it, but does anyone believe him?

Posted by: bsimon1 | August 4, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I think I predicted that Sotomayor will get less "no" votes than CJ Roberts did. Republicans have principles (unlike SENATOR Obama, who should thank God that the GOP won't stoop to his level in confirmation voting).

Posted by: JakeD | August 4, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

He better be careful or he may get a primary challenge.

CC, you summed it up when you noted that he was the PRESIDENT of one of the most conservative groups in the country. It will be hard for him to run from that record, no matter what he does.

Posted by: AndyR3 | August 4, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

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