President Barack Obama has called on Americans supporting gun control to be “single-issue voters” in order to combat pro-gun rights voters. After the president announced executive actions Tuesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest echoed the president’s call.
But when asked if Obama would then endorse pro-gun control Republicans for re-election, Earnest had to pause before finally answering — with an explanation — “I’m skeptical that will happen.”
In an October news conference, Obama said that voters who support gun control outnumber opponents, but he stressed that the intensity is on the side of the the gun lobby.
“You have to make sure that anyone who you are voting for is on the right side of this issue, and if they are not, even if they are great on other stuff, for a couple of election cycles you have to vote against them and let them know why you’re voting against them,” the president said at the time. “You just have to, for a while, be a single-issue voter because that’s what’s happening on the other side.”
After Obama announced plans for executive actions on Tuesday, Earnest repeated Obama’s point.
“The president has made this observation before — at some point, people who are in favor of gun safety measures, at some point they may just have to conclude they are going to be single-issue voters, that they are going to set aside all the other issues, that this one is going to take precedence over all of the others,” Earnest told reporter. “There are plenty of people on the other side of the debate who are single-issue voters. Maybe it’s time for people on the side of gun safety, on the side of keeping guns out of the wrong hands to display a similar passion.”
However, he did not seem to anticipate the next question. Specifically, he was asked about Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey and Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk, two Republicans who have supported expanding background checks.
Earnest said that he had not spoken with the president about whether he would be a single-issue endorser for campaigns across the country for the House and Senate, adding that Obama disagrees with Toomey on other matters.
“As the president noted today, the president certainly gave Sen. Toomey credit for what he had previously done on this issue. I think there are a lot of other things on which the president and Sen. Toomey disagree,” Earnest said. “So it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the president is willing to campaign for Sen. Toomey, given the significant differences they have on a whole bunch of other issues that the president also feels passionately about. The other think single-issue voters do is they give credit where it’s due. Sen. Toomey, to his credit, did step forward three years ago to put forward bipartisan legislation to close the gun show loophole.”
Earnest went on to say, “I’m skeptical that will happen,” adding, “I suspect Mr. Toomey’s Democratic opponent, once he has one, will have at least as good of a record as Sen. Toomey does at keeping guns out the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.”