HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) _ Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey is not saying whether he will eventually vote for or endorse GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump as the freshman senator is challenged by Democrat Katie McGinty in Pennsylvania’s neck-and-neck contest that could be heavily affected by the outcome of the presidential election.
Toomey has for months been critical of Trump and added to that criticism following the emergence Friday of a 2005 video in which Trump is heard bragging in vulgar terms about how his fame allowed him to “do anything” to women. But McGinty on Monday accused Toomey of lacking the courage and backbone of Republicans who have already disavowed Trump as the party’s presidential nominee.
That includes a couple of Pennsylvania members of the U.S. House and the state’s former Republican Gov. Tom Ridge.
Toomey is locked in a tight race with McGinty in Democratic-leaning Pennsylvania, and the outcome could decide control of the U.S. Senate. To win, Toomey must pick up some support from registered Democrats or independent voters.
In a statement Monday, Toomey said Sunday night’s presidential debate showed the shortcomings of both Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Toomey has never endorsed Trump, and in the statement he noted that he has repeatedly criticized Trump for his policies and comments. But he also has never ruled out voting for or endorsing Trump.
On Twitter, Toomey called Trump’s comments from 2005 “outrageous and unacceptable.” Last week, before the video emerged, Toomey said Trump is not a role model for children because of his “vulgarity and gratuitous insults of people.”
Toomey has reserved his toughest criticism for Clinton, and he accused McGinty of failing to say a single word against Clinton’s policies. McGinty has hewed closely to Clinton’s policy positions, even to the point of being unable or unwilling to cite any sort of difference with Clinton.
“Pennsylvania deserves a senator who will cross party lines and provide independent leadership, not a rubber stamp for a very flawed president,” Toomey said in his statement.
Toomey did not have a public event Monday, and canceled a “shadow a principal” event at Pottsgrove High School in suburban Philadelphia.
In the meantime, Trump’s comments from 2005 spurred a torrent of criticism from Pennsylvania’s Republican candidates for U.S. House. At least three, all from eastern Pennsylvania, have either called for Trump to step down or said they will not vote for Trump. That includes Brian Fitzpatrick, who is running in the state’s most competitive race for U.S. House to succeed his brother in a southeastern Pennsylvania district.
U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, a co-chairman of Trump’s campaign from Lycoming County, condemned Trump’s comments in a statement Sunday as vulgar and disgusting.
“Many have asked if I will continue to work to support Mr. Trump’s candidacy,” Marino said. “All I can say is that I will be watching in the coming days and I am hopeful he can make amends.”