Toomey says he’d back a Trump pick to the high court

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Marc Levy The As­so­ci­ated Press

Repub­li­can U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey of Penn­syl­va­nia has re­fused to en­dorse Don­ald Trump for pres­i­dent, but said Thurs­day he would be sup­port­ive of a Trump nom­i­nee to the Supreme Court and that giv­ing Democrats con­trol of the Sen­ate would frus­trate a Trump agenda.

Toomey is locked in a close race with Demo­crat Katie McGinty, and has pointed to his stance on the GOP’s pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee as a sign of in­de­pen­dence. He ac­cused McGinty, who once worked in Bill Clin­ton’s White House, of be­ing a “rub­ber stamp” for Hil­lary Clin­ton, should the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee be elected.

Chris Sti­gall, a Philadel­phia ra­dio host, told Toomey dur­ing his show Thurs­day that he tells friends frus­trated by Toomey’s re­fusal to en­dorse Trump that he be­lieves Toomey would sup­port a Trump court nom­i­nee.

Toomey said he has said that pub­licly “many times.” Toomey went on to say that Trump, if he be­comes pres­i­dent, can­not ac­com­plish any­thing with Democrats in power and that, if Clin­ton be­comes pres­i­dent, a Repub­li­can sen­a­tor would pro­vide a check on her ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“Hon­estly, I think who­ever you’re vot­ing for at the top of the ticket, you want to have a Repub­li­can Sen­ate,” Toomey said on WPHT-AM.

Toomey, a first-term sen­a­tor, is one of the most vul­ner­a­ble Repub­li­cans as the GOP strug­gles to hold onto its Sen­ate ma­jor­ity. A McGinty vic­tory could tip Sen­ate con­trol to Democrats.

Re­cent polls show Hil­lary Clin­ton lead­ing Trump in Penn­syl­va­nia, and Clin­ton’s strength boosts McGinty, es­pe­cially with reg­is­tered Democrats out­num­ber­ing Repub­li­cans four-to-three in the state.

Toomey has said pre­vi­ously he was “en­cour­aged” by Trump’s short list of would-be high court nom­i­nees since the Repub­li­can­con­trolled Sen­ate has re­fused to con­sider Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s nom­i­nee, Mer­rick Gar­land. Still, he has crit­i­cized Trump’s vul­gar­ity, his lack of de­vo­tion to con­ser­va­tive prin­ci­ples and his vague­ness about what he would do as pres­i­dent, or how.

Toomey has faced crit­i­cism from Trump sup­port­ers over his re­fusal to en­dorse the bil­lion­aire de­vel­oper, and McGinty has heav­ily crit­i­cized Toomey’s un­will­ing­ness to say whether he will vote for Trump and to more strongly dis­avow Trump, as have at least three Repub­li­can con­gress­men from Penn­syl­va­nia.

“It seems to me that Sen­a­tor Toomey is putting his po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests ahead of the in­ter­ests of his con­stituents and, re­ally, ba­sic hu­man de­cency,” McGinty told re­porters on a con­fer­ence call Thurs­day. “And it’s past time for Sen­a­tor Toomey to ex­plain how he can still, at this junc­ture, still be stand­ing with Don­ald Trump.”

Toomey has said he would not vote for Clin­ton.

On Thurs­day, Toomey re­newed crit­i­cism that McGinty is not suf­fi­ciently in­de­pen­dent of Clin­ton.

“I’m sup­posed to de­fend ev­ery word from him, hav­ing not en­dorsed him, and she can’t de­fend the ac­tions and the lies of Hil­lary Clin­ton, hav­ing fully en­dorsed her,” Toomey said. “The bot­tom line is very clear: She’s ab­so­lutely a rub­ber stamp for Hil­lary Clin­ton.”

The McGinty campaign said McGinty has dis­agreed with Clin­ton on a num­ber of is­sues, in­clud­ing clos­ing Guan­tanamo Bay, and that she dis­agreed with Clin­ton’s use of a pri­vate server in­stead of a State De­part­ment com­puter sys­tem for her work-re­lated emails while she was sec­re­tary of state.

McGinty has hewed closely to Clin­ton’s pol­icy po­si­tions, and at one re­cent ap­pear­ance was un­able to cite any sort of pol­icy dif­fer­ence with Clin­ton when asked for ex­am­ples.

“It seems to me that Sen­a­tor Toomey is putting his po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests ahead of the in­ter­ests of his con­stituents and, re­ally, ba­sic hu­man de­cency.” — Katie McGinty

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