WASHINGTON – How’s this for strange bedfellows?
As Sen. Pat Toomey (R, Pa.) decried Obamacare and government spending at a conservative conference in Harrisburg Friday, President Obama's allies announced a rally outside Toomey’s Philadelphia office Saturday to thank him for crossing party lines and leading a push to strengthen background checks for gun purchases.
His speech cand the rally announcement were nearly simultaneous.
Organizing for America, an Obama-affiliated activist group, will rally outside Toomey’s Philadelphia office to “praise him for standing with the American people in support of the commonsense gun violence prevention legislation, and to assert that this fight is far from over.”
Toomey, however, has said he is putting the background check plan behind him and returning to his wheelhouse: fiscal policy. My story today details how he moved on the day after the gun fight ended.
In Harrisburg, at the conservative Pennsylvania Leadership Conference, he reiterated that idea, while also cracking jokes at his own expense, according to Twitter posts from the event. Speaking about a term limits bill he has championed, Toomey joked that his background check plan “might have been an effort to term limit myself.”
The Saturday rally reflects the odd political dynamic following Toomey's decision to cross the political aisle, defying most Republicans in endorsing expanded background checks. Toomey, a fierce fiscal conservative, surely does not want to be too closely affiliated with Obama.
But bipartisan cred will help him with moderate suburban swing voters, who are critical, politically, in Pennsylvania.
The strange circumstances were reflected in a Pennsylvania state Republican party press release Wednesday, after Toomey’s gun bill was defeated . While Toomey and Obama were on the same side on that measure, and Toomey had decried people who tried to distort his bill into an assault on the second amendment, the GOP said this:
“Senator Toomey has always respected Pennsylvania’s strong tradition of responsible gun ownership and he is not afraid to confront President Obama head-on to stop his extreme agenda to take away our Second Amendment rights."
Bipartisanship, apparently, makes political hits a lot more complicated.
UPDATE: The Obama-affiliated group is also rallying to praise Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, who also supported the background check plan.