That must be what millions of Americans (many of whom can’t name their own senators, much less one from Oklahoma) were wondering last night after both Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama mentioned him during the first presidential debate in Mississippi (in Oxford Town, as Bob Dylan referred to it many decades ago).
Maybe the two candidates had Coburn on the brain, since the Muskogee Republican called them both on Tuesday night to urge them to show some leadership and issue a joint statement on the nation’s financial crisis.
McCain, R-Arizona, brought him up first, during the portion of the debate on economic issues:
“Well, the first thing we have to do is get spending under control in Washington. It’s completely out of control. It’s gone _ we have now presided over the largest increase in the size of government since the Great Society.
“We Repubicans came to power to change government, and government changed us. And the worst sympton of this disease is what my friend Tom Coburn calls earmarking as a gateway drug becauses it’s a gateway to out-of-control spending and corruption.”
Just a few minutes later, Obama cited his work with the legendary Okie from Muskogee:
“John mentioned me being wildly liberal. Mostly that’s just me opposing George Bush’s wrong-headed policies since I’ve been in Congress. But I think it is also important to recognize I work with Tom Coburn, the most conservative, one of the most conservative Republicans who John already mentioned to set up what we call a ‘Google for Government,’ saying we’ll list every dollar of federal spending to make sure that the taxpayer can take a look and see who, in fact, is promoting some of these spending projects that John’s been railing about.”
Coburn is, of course, backing McCain. He came out for him during primary season, helping with the social conservatives that have long been suspicious of McCain.
But Coburn hasn’t been negative about Obama, whom he befriended shortly after the two men were elected to the Senate in 2004. Besides the Google for Government bill, the two also worked on legislation to prevent taxpayer rip-offs by private contractors getting federal money after Hurricane Katrina.