Pressing debt, House control and economy: Lankford’s ‘looking for voters’

By Patrick B. McGuigan

Published: 24-Sep-2010

Asked why voters in Oklahoma’s fifth congressional district should support him and not Billy Coyle, the Democratic nominee, Republican candidate James Lankford told CapitolBeatOK:

“The election is about where we are going to go as a nation. Do we stay on the same path as now, with an administration and a current Congress that believes some businesses are ‘too big to fail’?

“Do we stay with a health care change that is a takeover of health care decisions and a transformation of our country in the wrong direction, into a very different kind of America than we have been?

“To send a Democrat to Washington this year, even a ‘conservative’ Democrat, is to reinforce the status quo. I will fight the status quo in Washington. Billy Coyle will support it. That’s what the election is about.”

In an interview this week, Lankford elaborated: “It’s not partisanship, it’s the policy views of the contenders that drive this. There are distinct policy differences. The question I’m asking is whether or not private citizens own their own companies, or are they just under government control?

“The candidates have differences, and you see those in the policies that come out of the contending parties when it comes to understanding the role of government and what to do in reaction or response to that role.

“One party believes it is the role of government to provide happiness. The other believes it is the role of government to protect the right to pursue happiness. I am with the latter party, and hold the latter view.”

In his campaign, Coyle has stressed three issues: Support for veterans, with a particular focus on those returning from overseas; jobs and growing the economy; and a pro-energy or pro-Oklahoma energy development policy.

Asked to succinctly list his own three main themes, Lankford responded: “First, how do we deal with the debt? Second, how to reform or change the structure, or way, in which the U.S. House of Representatives is organized?  How should the House be organized and how should it deal with all these fundamental issues from either side?”

Lankford continued on the second point:  “The most efficient way to change direction is to change control the House of Representatives. There are distinct policy differences between the two parties. That’s simply a fact.

“Billy and I certainly disagree on one crucial issue, and that is who should run the U.S. House of Representatives. I will not support Nancy Pelosi’s return as speaker. He will. That’s a simple and direct difference between us.”

The third key theme for Lankford is “how to respond to the takeover, and overregulation, of jobs and the U.S. economy. Democrats have tried to improve the economy with temporary make-work jobs and projects and deficit spending; and a lot of government jobs. The results of that in private sector jobs have not been impressive. I will fight for the private sector to have the ability to create jobs that last.”

Lankford met with CapitolBeatOK on Thursday (September 23), as national Republicans were releasing the “Pledge to America” compilation of vision and policy ideas. He observed, “It’s not perfect. I will be participating on a conference call later today to talk about those 20-21 pages. It’s got potential but doesn’t capture everything. I’ll clearly be spending time responding to that vision and state my own views as well.”

Asked to size-up his opponent, Lankford commented, “Billy is obviously sharp, and good on his feet. He is a sharp thinker. He’s a lawyer like his Dad, so he is always well-prepared. He is a traditional Democrat and he is focusing on traditional Democratic themes.”

As for Coyle’s key themes, Lankford reflected, “On veterans I am very passionate as well. I come from a strong military family background and of course that influences my views toward how we should treat our veterans and those who serve our country in the military.”

He continued, “I would note that support for the U.S. military is a very strong part of that new pledge to America the national Republicans released today, an aspect of that I like very much.

“I don’t doubt his sincerity to want to help veterans and support them. I would point out that if you look at the record of the Democrats in the last two years the support of the military and of our veterans can not be described as strong in the way the Republicans have advanced.”

He observed, “This seat has been held by a Republican. Electing another Republican – me — is a way to continue strong support of veterans and of national defense when it comes to the U.S. House.”

On the Democrat’s second point, Lankford said,  “I don’t see how you push or support a strong economy and jobs growth with a Democrat in Congress from Oklahoma’s Fifth District.

“On the third issue, oh my. This administration is killing jobs in oil and gas with their policies that attack current energy producers and with subsidies to what they call ‘green jobs.’ My approach will be different, and that’s to fight for oil, natural gas and our Oklahoma energy businesses.”

Asked about other points he wanted to make, Lankford said, “Since you make the offer, I hope readers will link to our website and to the information on it. I have a lot of information on a lot of issues, where we’ve thought through the position and the policies we intend to support. The best way to get a read on those issues is to go to the website and get it straight from us.”

Lankford concluded, “An interesting thing I’ve noticed. This is a different kind of political year. I have a sense that I’m not that different than other Oklahomans. There is an awakening in our country.

“A lot of people have become passionate, or intensified their passion, about what is going on in our nation. We have a lot of fresh volunteers, people who say they’ve never been involved before. Their enthusiasm mirrors the decision my wife and I made to run last year.

“These are new people who have taken the time to get involved, as we’ve taken the time to run and do this. It’s exciting to be ‘one of them.’ I don’t sneer at the political class. I respect many of them. But I’m new to this, and I bring the ideas and passion of many of those people not previously involved, who have grown passionate, knowledgeable and determined to bring a change of direction to America.”

As the interview concluded, Lankford was asked if there was any risk of overconfidence as the election nears with widespread expectations of a strong Republican trend. He replied, “Coyle is smart and will work hard. Me too. I am focused on winning and I assume he is, too. I am not looking for an apartment in Washington, D.C. I am looking for voters in Oklahoma City.”

Editor’s Note: Lankford’s campaign website is Billy Coyle’s campaign website is