Pat Toomey isn’t ready to jump aboard the Trump train just yet.
The Republican senator from Pennsylvania, locked in one of the most consequential Senate races of the 2016 election, told Philadelphia’s WAEB radio on Monday that he’s “got this set of doubts” regarding presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
“My message to Donald Trump is: You need to unite the Republican Party if we’re gonna win this general election,” Toomey said. “I hope to get to the point where I can enthusiastically support Donald Trump. I’m not there right now, and I hope we don’t get to a point where I decide I just can’t support him.”
Toomey echoed his sentiment from a Sunday op-ed he wrote for Philly.com.
“As a Republican elected official, I am inclined to support the nominee of my party,” Toomey wrote. “That doesn’t mean I must always agree with him. I didn’t agree with Mitt Romney, John McCain, or George W. Bush on everything, but I supported them.”
“That said, Trump is different from previous nominees,” he continued.
Toomey first endorsed Marco Rubio, a Florida senator, for president. After Rubio dropped out of the race, Toomey voted for Ted Cruz, a Texas senator, in the Pennsylvania primary last month.
And though he called Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton “unacceptably flawed,” he added that he’s “not pleased with the two choices we have.”
“There could come a point at which the differences are so great as to be irreconcilable,” he wrote. “I hope that doesn’t happen, but I have never been a rubber stamp for my party’s positions or its candidates.”
He added that Trump must seek to unite the party and listen to some of his critics to reassure voters “who have grave doubts about him.”
“Winning the nomination is a great accomplishment, but it does not mean party members check their judgment at the door,” he wrote.
- AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
Toomey is facing a tough battleground-state reelection fight for his Senate seat against Katie McGinty, the Democratic candidate who has already attempted to tie Toomey to Trump.
A Quinnipiac poll from early April showed Toomey with a 9-point edge over McGinty. But that came weeks before McGinty dispatched two Democratic primary challengers and became Democrats’ nominee to take on Toomey.
Left-leaning groups like Emily’s List, a political action committee that works to elect female candidates that favor abortion rights, have already signaled a strategy to make races like Pennsylvania’s a referendum on Trump and the policies he supports.
“None of these Republican candidates have had the spine to stand up to Donald Trump so far,” Marcy Stech, the communication’s director for Emily’s List, told Business Insider in an email.
“Trump’s words and his policies are toxic for any Republican on the ballot, and no amount of rhetorical tap dancing will be able to get around that,” she continued.
Toomey’s op-ed wasn’t his first expression of frustration with Trump as the party’s presumptive nominee. When interviewed by Dom Giordano of Philadelphia’s WPHT radio on Wednesday, Toomey seemed less than excited about the prospect of Trump at the top of the Republican ticket.
Clinton and Trump as the options was “not the choice I had hoped to be presented with, but I guess this is where we are,” he said.
Many Republican leaders have expressed trepidation with supporting Trump as the Manhattan billionaire has risen to carry the mantle of the party. Four of the past five Republican presidential nominees, including the past two Republican presidents, have said they will not be attending the convention in Cleveland this summer.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is meeting with Trump later this week, told CNN last Thursday that he is “just not ready” to support the real-estate magnate.
Maxwell Tani contributed reporting.