Toomey praises Pence, but waiting to hear more from Trump

GOP senator visits Harrisburg to accept U.S. Chamber backing

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey speaks in Harrisburg about his endorsement by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce while Rob Engstrom, the chamber's senior vice president, looks on. - (Photo / Amy Spangler)

Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey won’t be attending his party’s national convention in Cleveland next week, but he offered praise for the man who could be the nation’s next vice president.

“I’m a big fan of Mike Pence,” Toomey said of the Indiana governor, who has been chosen as a running mate by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

As for Trump?

Toomey, who came to Harrisburg this afternoon to accept the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said he is waiting to hear more about the New York businessman’s platform when Republicans gather in Ohio for four days, starting Monday.

The senator said he has been encouraged by some signs, including Trump’s release in May of possible Supreme Court nominees, a roster of solidly conservative candidates.

But Toomey won’t be on hand to hear what Trump has to say in Cleveland, saying he will be out on the campaign trail himself.

First elected to the Senate in 2010, the Lehigh Valley resident ran unopposed within his party during primary season. He now is running against Democrat Katie McGinty in his bid to win a second term in November.

He currently holds a double-digit lead in the race, according to the latest Quinnipiac University Poll.

Business support

Toomey appeared at the Pennsylvania Chamber Of Business And Industry headquarters on Walnut Street, where he received the support of that group — president and CEO Gene Barr stressed that the group does not actually endorse candidates — as well as the formal endorsement of the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Chamber.

Barr and U.S. Chamber senior vice president Rob Engstrom praised Toomey for championing what they called pro-business, pro-job policies, drawing a contrast with McGinty’s support of the Obama administration’s handling of health care, environmental policies and other regulatory issues.

“The time has come for a vigorous defense of the U.S. free enterprise system,” Engstrom said in supporting Toomey.

The McGinty campaign responded that Toomey’s positions have harmed Pennsylvania’s economy and put residents out of work.

“Pat Toomey has a long record of supporting policies that benefit China at the expense of Pennsylvania workers,” spokesman Sean Coit said.

“Pat Toomey has supported bad trade deals like the TPP and opposed efforts to crack down on China’s currency manipulation — which have eliminated thousands of jobs in Pennsylvania,” Coit added.

To secure the U.S. Chamber’s backing, a candidate must have voted consistently with its views on 70 percent of votes related to business issues. Toomey’s rating was 86 percent, Engstrom said.

The U.S. Chamber has been at odds with Trump, on the other hand, with chamber President and CEO Thomas Donohue expressing public concern about how Trump’s trade policies could harm the nation’s economy. 

Toomey reiterated his opposition to Obamacare — formally known as the Affordable Care Act — signed into law in 2010 by President Barack Obama, as well as the program’s tax on medical-device manufacturers. He supported a move to suspend the tax for two years, and would like to see it eliminated, citing its impact on many Pennsylvania manufacturers.

“This has been the weakest economic recovery after a recession that we’ve ever had, since the Great Depression,” he said of the nation’s overall trajectory under Obama. “We should never accept as the new normal 1.5 or 2 percent economic growth for the United States of America.”

Toomey also spoke about his support for plans to make the Marcus Hook refinery complex near Philadelphia accessible to gas tanker ships, allowing shale gas exports, and his opposition to the administration’s Clean Power Plan.

“They’re trying to put all coal out of business,” Toomey told CPBJ.

Roger DuPuis
Roger DuPuis covers Cumberland County, health care, transportation, distribution, energy and environment. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at rdupuis@cpbj.com.

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