WASHINGTON — Oklahoma political leaders commented Saturday on presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's selection of Rep. Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin, as his running mate:
Gov. Mary Fallin: “Having worked with Paul Ryan in Congress, I know he is a smart, committed advocate for the kind of small government, pro-growth policies that are going to create more jobs and get this country back on track. He's also a genuinely nice person with a great family and a wonderful wife from Madill, Oklahoma.”
U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee: “I have had the privilege of working alongside Paul Ryan for many years. He has exhibited the rarest and most essential quality of leadership in politics — moral courage. When most elected officials have offered only rhetoric, Ryan has had the audacity to offer specifics and a plan that has transformed the landscape of American politics.”
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa: “I congratulate Mitt Romney on his excellent vice presidential selection of Paul Ryan. Ryan is a solid conservative who has shown incredible leadership on some of the biggest issues of the day. The Romney-Ryan ticket will bring solutions to our country's fiscal problems while restoring America's economic strength.”
U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, D-Muskogee: “Paul has a firm moral compass and has always approached his job as a congressman with diligence and honesty. Having many friends on both sides of the aisle, he is an effective and talented leader. Although we belong in different political parties, I see Paul as a friend, a fellow hunter, and most importantly a family man.”
U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, said Romney's pick makes a clean break from the past and defines a new era of Republican “realities” driven by the desire to confront federal spending and the nation's debt.
“We needed to shake things up,'' Cole said in an interview. “We needed to redefine who we are. I'm going to really enjoy the generational contest between Ryan and (Vice President Joe) Biden because one guy is the future and one guy is the past.”
Cole, who serves with Ryan on the budget committee, said Ryan “will be a rock star with young people'' who can talk to them about the challenges facing Social Security and Medicare.
Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairman Wallace Collins said he wasn't surprised Romney selected Ryan because “he feels like he needs to make a stronger connection with the more radical part of his party.”
Democrats could benefit from the selection because of the fiscal conservative congressman's plans to shrink Social Security and cut Medicaid.
“It's probably a good choice for us as Democrats because now he's going to have to defend that radical Ryan budget plan,” Collins said. “I certainly relish the thought of holding him accountable for that plan, which is going to gut Medicare, Medicaid. It's going to affect seniors. It's going to affect people with disabilities. It's going to affect veterans.”
Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Matt Pinnell: “Ryan's addition to the ticket shows that Governor Romney, in addition to his focus on job creation, is prepared to run a robust campaign with a sharp message built around tax and spending cuts, deficit reduction and entitlement reform; policies that will literally save this country.”