Speaking in a room crowded with conservative voters Wednesday, three Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate agreed that out-of-control spending and federal overreach have put the nation on a path to ruin.
Former Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon, U.S. Rep. James Lankford and former state Sen. Randy Brogdon spoke during an Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee candidate forum. Each made the case that he is the most conservative candidate in the field.
The three are vying to fill the Senate seat vacated by Sen. Tom Coburn, who plans to step down early next year.
Brogdon, of Owasso, warned voters that future generations will see a weak economic outlook if the country doesn’t change directions quickly. The country is “spending ourselves into oblivion,” he said.
Brogdon, who served in the Oklahoma Senate from 2002 to 2011, blamed the federal Environmental Protection Agency for driving jobs overseas and called the federal government “the greatest threat to our liberty and our economic prosperity.”
Shannon, of Lawton, cited his record as House speaker as proof of his conservative credentials, including refusing to expand Medicaid as a part of the federal Affordable Care Act.
“I fundamentally believe that we need to get the federal government out of health care,” Shannon said.
Although he called for reduced spending in every other category, Shannon said he would oppose military budget cuts. Shannon said the country has become less safe, and blamed President Barack Obama for “disarming” the nation through cuts to military spending.
Those cuts have created a situation where the U.S. has lost the trust of its allies and the fear of its enemies, Shannon said.
More than it needs ideas, the Republican Party needs leaders and communicators who can communicate those ideas effectively, Shannon said.
“It’s not enough just to be right,” he said.
Lankford said he hopes to restore the nation to a system where most decisions are made locally and states have greater authority.
A two-term congressman from Edmond, Lankford said he sought seats on the House budget and oversight committees because he wanted to be able to advocate for smaller, more effective government.
In response to a voter’s question about U.S. membership in the United Nations, each candidate said he would advocate for the United States to withdraw from the organization. Brogdon said he’d like to see the U.N. driven off American soil.
“I think we should shut the United Nations down, run them out of New York City,” Brogdon said.
The candidates also advocated for stronger action against undocumented immigrants.
While Shannon and Lankford said they supported securing the border, Brogdon said he wants to see the U.S. border with Mexico closed outright until it can be made secure.