Video: Tom Cole predicts ‘good Republican year,’ discusses the electorate’s mood
By Patrick B. McGuigan
U.S. Rep. Tom Cole of Moore faces a “Tea Party” challenge from R.J. Harris of Norman, but if he weathers that July 27 primary he will be reelected because no Democrat entered this year’s race for the 4th Congressional District seat. When he filed for reelection, Cole answered questions for News9 and CapitolBeatOK. The complete video of that interview accompanies this story.
The interview touched on key issues for campaign 2010, the mood of the electorate, President Obama’s controversial policy objectives, Republican prospects in the congressional elections, and other issues.
Rep. Cole identified what he considers the top three issues of the election year, beginning with federal government spending: “There isn’t any doubt that the budget deficit is out of control. The American people know that. They expect us to make some tough decisions on their behalf.”
The second priority, he argues, “is getting the economy moving again. You know, we have a president that pushed through a stimulus package, largely along partisan lines, and who promised if we passed it that we’d never see unemployment above 8 percent. Of course, we got to 10 percent, and it’s 9.7 percent now. We’ve accumulated a great deal of debt, and that policy clearly hasn’t worked.”
Third, Cole observed, “we’re at war,” making the final priority “defending the country, maintaining the military, and making sure that we stay safe.”
The electorate, he commented, “is very concerned about the country, and in an appropriate way.” Voters “think that Washington is out of control and not responsive to their desires. I think the health care package is a pretty good indication that that is true. The American people sent us messages in town hall meetings and elections last November, and then of course in the Massachusetts special [Senate election].
“There’s not a poll in America that shows a majority of the people are in favor of the health care bill. As a matter of fact, the overwhelming majority want to repeal it. And yet, the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress just pushed it through any way.”
Cole continued, “The American people, and certainly the Oklahoma voters, see this as a matter of taking control of their own government, and of getting back power into their own hands. That concern is real.
“They want to make sure that the country is better for their children, and their grandchildren. They feel like they got a country that was in pretty good shape, from their parents and grandparents. They feel an obligation to do the same thing. They are not confident that is happening in Washington, D.C. Frankly, they’re right to be concerned.”
Asked what had most surprised him about Barack Obama’s presidency, Cole responded: “How far to the Left he genuinely is. We should have seen it coming, in the sense that he was the most liberal Senator in the United States Senate for the four years that he was there, according to National Journal. I think we all thought that when he became president he would move a little bit toward the middle. And, he committed that he would do that during the course of the campaign. The reality is that he hasn’t.”
Cole continued that President Obama’s ardent liberal policies provoked major repercussions: “That’s why he hasn’t had any Republican support, and that’s why he has lot literally dozens of Democrats on key votes like health care, like the stimulus, and like cap-and-trade. He’s trying to govern a conservative country from the Left end of the political spectrum, and he’s having a lot of problems doing it.”
Cole was then asked: “With things looking so good for Republicans, is there any chance they could blow it and not make significant gains in 2010?”
Cole responded, “It’s always possible. These are elections. They’re always won and lost on the basis of individual campaigns. But there’s no question that this is as good an environment as Republicans have had, going into an election, since 1994.
“Whether we take control of either House is an open question. It’s very unlikely in the Senate, given that a third of those seats are up, and that a majority of that third are Republican – but we have a chance in the House.
“Regardless of whether we take full control in the House, I have no doubt we will have the best year we’ve had since 1994, with really substantial gains.”
Cole further explained the bases for his political optimism: “We have to go out and convince the American people that we’ll do the things that we say, that we’ve learned some lessons while we’ve been in the wilderness for four years. If we do that, I think we’ve got a very good chance to be successful in the election.”