MIDWEST CITY — Oklahoma's junior U.S. senator would be a good choice for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to consider as his running mate, a member of the Sooner state's delegation said Saturday.
Romney needs a vice presidential running mate who is not from the Northeast and who can firm up the conservative base, U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas told those attending the annual Oklahoma Press Association convention at the Reed Center in Midwest City..
“He needs someone who understands health care. He needs someone who would do the most effective job of going after people,” said Lucas, R-Cheyenne. “Don't be surprised on the final list of six if you don't see your junior senator's name.”
U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, a physician, was mentioned four years ago as a possible running mate for U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who won the GOP presidential nomination in 2008 and picked former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate.
Coburn, R-Muskogee, has demonstrated he can work with members of either political party, including President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and has been a consistent voice for the federal government to reduce spending and to be more accountable in its fiscal policies.
Scott Shackelford, a former editorial page editor for a northwest Arkansas newspaper, suggested Coburn as a possible running mate in an article he wrote in May on The City Wire website.
“Tea party-types see Coburn as one of their own, and his voting record in the Senate reflects that,” Shackelford wrote. “But President Obama respects and values his opinion — probably because he isn't parroting the party line. He appears to hold little interest in the Republican leadership's bullying tactics. Instead, Coburn seems willing to compromise (enormous cuts in spending in exchange for closing most tax loopholes, and perhaps boosting revenues where it makes sense) in order to achieve his goal of balancing the federal budget and retiring more than a mere majority of the federal debt in the next decade.”
Asked in August at an Oklahoma City town hall meeting if he would consider being a running mate to then-GOP presidential contender Rick Perry if the Texas governor won the nomination, Coburn said, “The only thing I'd consider running for is dinner as soon as this is over.”
No third term
Coburn, who doesn't plan to seek a third term in the U.S. Senate, has been urged numerous times in the past to run for president, but it's not a topic he likes to discuss. Three callers to a C-SPAN program in December asked him whether he would run for president. Coburn said he “had thoughts” of running himself, but he made clear that it wasn't going to happen, saying he probably doesn't have the “skill set” necessary.
Lucas said Romney likely will pick someone from outside the nation's capital to be his running mate.
“I have to believe they step away from Congress to pick someone,” he said.