Politics & Policy

Pat Toomey for Senate

Senator Pat Toomey (Photo: Gage Skidmore

Hillary Clinton, taking a break from lying about her own record, spent the weekend lying about Pat Toomey’s. The first-term Republican senator “still refuses to stand up to Donald Trump,” Clinton said on Saturday, at a rally in Pittsburgh. “If he doesn’t have the courage to stand up to Donald Trump after all this, then can you be sure he’ll stand up for you when it counts?”

This is first-rate nonsense. In an election season in which most Republican officeholders and office-seekers have opted to endorse their party’s nominee rather than risk the displeasure of constituents, Toomey is one of the few who have refused to take the path of convenience. He initially endorsed Marco Rubio, then cast his primary vote for Ted Cruz, and in May, when it was clear that Trump would be the nominee barring a convention surprise, Toomey told the Philadelphia Inquirer: “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.” The intervening months have only given more reason for concern, and Toomey has not capitulated.

By way of explanation to frustrated constituents, Toomey has said that he has “never been a rubber stamp for my party’s positions or its candidates.” Pennsylvania voters on both sides of the aisle should consider this a virtue. Toomey’s term in office has showcased a thoughtful, measured approach to legislating. He has been willing to work across the aisle to create bipartisan solutions to knotty problems, but he has also been a principled conservative willing to check Republican leadership — as one would expect given that he first came to the attention of his state’s voters by taking on an incumbent liberal Republican senator, Arlen Specter, over the objections of the Bush White House and the RNC.

Toomey’s conservative bona fides are not in doubt. He has voted to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal Obamacare. He opposes the ethanol mandate (“one of the most egregious examples of corporate welfare,” he’s called it). He understands that we cannot rein in the federal debt without doing something about the growth of Social Security and Medicare, and he is politically brave enough to say so. Last fall, he introduced legislation to take federal funds away from sanctuary cities. He gets high marks from groups such as the American Conservative Union, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Club for Growth (which he used to run).

Toomey is not a fire-breather; he is willing to work with political opponents in support of conservative goals.

But Toomey is not a fire-breather; he is willing to work with political opponents in support of conservative goals. Occasionally, his bipartisan impulses go too far for us — for example, his ill-crafted, if well-intentioned, 2013 gun-control bill — but he generally knows how to strike a good deal. His bill to roll back much of the ethanol mandate was co-sponsored with California senator Dianne Feinstein.

This is the type of common-sense, conservative leadership that is well suited to purple Pennsylvania, a state where voters seem to prefer Democratic presidential candidates but Republican senators and congressmen to check them. Just as he has pushed back against the excesses of the Obama administration, Toomey would be a principled check on a Hillary Clinton presidency — unlike his opponent, Katie McGinty, a Democratic politico who hopes to prop up Obamacare, expand abortion “rights” and entitlements, and mandate a $15 minimum wage. In the event of a surprise on November 8, though, he will also be a check on a Trump presidency, offering a conservative rebuttal to the potential excesses of Trump’s wayward populism.

That is what Pat Toomey has done, at great cost, throughout this election season. We enthusiastically endorse him for a second term in the U.S. Senate.

The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

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