Here’s a transcript of my May 26 interview with U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, the Republican nominee for the Senate in the Nov. 8 election. Some of his comments were included in the story we published Monday. We ran the story later than we expected, which explains why so late on publishing this transcript.
TT: I guess the main question is why do you think you deserve another term?
PT: Well, I think I’ve done a good job in the Senate in my first term and I think there’s a lot of work left to be done and I want to play a role in accomplishing that. My focus in the Senate has been mostly pursuing policies that would help us restore the kind of economic growth that we should be having but we’re not having. And dealing with security issues, both nationally and more locally. And there’s just a lot of work to be done. We’re on the wrong track. We’ve been a country in retreat around the world, we’ve become vulnerable, not safer under this administration. And we’ve got this very weak economic performance when our economy really should be booming. So I want to pursue the kinds of policies that would allow us to have strong middle class incomes and a rising standard of living.
TT: What are the policies, do you think, that you’ve pursued so far toward restoring economic growth?
PT: First of all, the JOBS Act, was mostly legislation in the Senate, married up with several other bills in the House. That’s clearly been very successful in allowing growing companies to raise capital more easily so that they can hire more workers and grow. That’s certainly been very constructive, my efforts to get the medical device tax repealed (and) when we couldn’t do that, at least get it suspended. It is currently suspended. There are a lot of Pennsylvania companies that make medical devices, thousands and thousands of Pennsylvanians who work at companies that make medical devices. Almost all of us at some point require those devices for our health care. It’s real important that this be a thriving, growing and innovative industry. So that was a constructive step. I would arguing banning earmarks, that has been a fight every Congress. The three congresses that I have served this term, I have led that fight each time because there’s a lot of people that would like to go back to that kind of wasteful spending and we’ve been able to continue the end of earmarks. For now, that will be an ongoing fight because there’s always members of Congress who want to spend other people’s money on wasted projects. But those are a few of the specific things that are accomplishments that we’ve got done, successes that are on the books. There are a lot of other efforts where we’ve made some progress that haven’t had, haven’t necessarily had the final legislative success yet and I hope to get those thigns done.
TT: What’s the differences between you and your opponent?
PT: Oh, I think there are a lot of differences. First of all, Katie McGinty was handpicked by the Washington political bosses and they carried her over the goal line in this primary, spending millions of dollars on her past. I was the guy who took on the Republican Party establishment when I challenged Arlen Specter back in 2009, prompting him to leave the party. But we’ve also got big differences, I think, in our approaches. I’ve got a record of working across the aisle, and trying to find common ground, which I’ve done in a variety of ways with my colleagues. Katie McGinty has been a hyperpartisan, extremely liberal. Even her work for Gov. Wolf, her role in the whole budget, supporting the biggest tax increase that Pennsylvania’s ever seen since there was an income tax, creating a toxic relationship with the legislators. And then you know she’s got a history of ethics problems, funneling money to companies that later put her on the board and rewarded her. That practice was condemned by the Pennsylvania Ethics Commission and the state Supreme Court. So there’s a lot of ways in which we’re very different. Fundamentally, of course, she is in lockstep with Hillary Clinton, believes in Obamacare, she fully supports Obamacare, wants it to go even further. She supports the Iran nuclear deal, which I think is a disaster. She can’t bring herself sanctuary cities, which govern our security right here at home. So we’ve got a lot of big differences.
TT: You mentioned Hillary Clinton and she didn’t deny that she is a supporter or that she endorses her. I read what you said about (Donald) Trump, have you thought any further about what you’re going to do in regards to the presumptive Republican nominee?
PT: You know, I’m still kind of watching and seeing. I found it encouraging that he put out a list of potential Supreme Court nominees. It was a list of very, very capable, very thoughtful, solid jurists who understand the limited role of a judge in our constitutional system. So that tell me that Donald Trump, at least in this regard, is taking good advice from really thoughtful, knowledgeable people and I was encouraged by that. I hope to see more of that kind of specificity.
TT: I think you said at one point that you would support the Republican nominee. Does that mean you’ll support him?
PT: What I have said consistently, Borys, is that I have always intended to support the Republican nominee. I said that long before we had any idea who the nominee would be. That’s the natural thing. I have supported every Republican presidential nominee since Ronald Reagan. So that is what I’ve always expected.
TT: You mentioned working across the aisle and in some of your campaign commercials, you focus on issues that don’t get a lot of attention. Why is that? And I wonder if it’s an indication that Congress really didn’t resolve any of the big issues like immigration and tax reform, which, especially the tax reform, I know you want to see done.
PT: Yeah, I think it’s true that we haven’t tackled the really big issues like putting our federal budget on a sustainable path and reforming our tax code, (and) I would argue rolling back this avalanche of regulations that are clearly stifling growth. And the problem, of course, is our president fundamentally disagrees with guys like and members of Congress that are interested in reforming the tax code. The president does not want to make fundamental changes to our entitlement programs so that they’ll be viable and sustainable. The president thinks all these regulations are a good idea, he’s the one proposing them. So that has been very frustrating, that’s why we need a new president. But the other thing is sometimes I think the press likes to focus on conflicts and I’m not sure if the media finds it too boring to write about when people are working together and getting things done. So that’s part of the reason I need to tell that story carefully.
TT: There’s kind of two elements to this question — and this is kind of her theme that you’re sort of a tool of Wall Street financiers — I’m wondering if that’s not a reason that the race is close? The latest poll, the only poll since the primary has you up a point.
PT: First of all, I think to attribute a close race at this point to a stated criticism from my opponent would be a huge and unsubstantiated leap. It’s a close race because this is Pennsylvania in a presidential year. And our statewide elections are almost always close. That’s just the nature of Pennsylvania politics, they’re just competitive races. What’s ironic about this line of attack by Katie McGinty, of course, is she’s the one that’s engaged in this crony corporatism where she helped to funnel taxpayer money to corporations and then went on their payroll. And speaking of Wall Street, I’ve never heard her criticize all of the Wall Street bailouts. I criticized them at the time. I said they were wrong, we shouldn’t do it. And in the Senate, I’m the guy that’s introduced legislation that would reform Dodd-Frank that would explicitly preclude and forbid any bailouts in the future. Dodd-Frank codifies the need for future bailouts and makes it explicitly possible. That’s one of the first things I’ve done is to try to repeal that provision so that if a big Wall Street firm fails, it goes through bankruptcy and shareholders simply get wiped out as do creditors, but not taxpayers. I haven’t heard anything like that from my opponent. So I’ll be happy to stand on my record.