April 6th, 2010
08:50 PM ET
12 years ago

Coburn defends Pelosi, takes swipe at FOX

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/13/art.coburn0813.gi.jpg caption="Coburn warned citizens not to 'catch yourself being biased by Fox News.'"](CNN) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - a lightning rod among opponents of the recent health care legislation - is being defended by an unlikely source: Conservative Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn.

Coburn is a fierce opponent of the health care bill but told participants at a recent town hall in his home state that Pelosi is a "nice lady" who deserves to be treated with civility.

"Come on now, she is a nice - how many of you all have met her?" Coburn said to groans from the crowd. "She is a nice person. Let me give you a little lesson here, I hope you will listen to me. Just because somebody disagrees with you doesn't mean they aren't a good person."

The comments, first reported by Capitol News Connection and recorded by local NPR station KGOU, strike a markedly different tone than that adopted by the Republican National Committee, which posted a large "Fire Pelosi" banner on its Web site last month and pictured the House Speaker amidst balls of fire.

Coburn spokesman John Hart confirmed the comments and said he believed they came during a March 31 event in Oklahoma City.

In the same town-hall, Coburn reiterated his opposition to the health care legislation but warned town-hall attendees to be wary of information they receive about the bill on Fox News.

"What we have to have is make sure we have a debate in this country so that you can see what's going on and make a determination yourself," he said. "So don't catch yourself being biased by Fox News that somebody is no good. The people in Washington are good. They just don't know what they don't know."

The Oklahoma Republican and medical doctor also pushed back against one town-hall participant who said the legislation aimed to imprison people who don't buy health insurance.

"The intention is not to put any one in jail. That makes for good TV news on FOX but that isn't the intention," he said.

Coburn also advised his constituents to get their news from a broad range of sources: "Don't just watch Fox News or CNN, watch them both," he said. "I read two papers a day - the New York times, the Washington Post, and in between the Wall Street Journal. I get a perspective."

Filed under: Extra • Popular Posts • Tom Coburn
soundoff (279 Responses)
  1. Dutch

    Noce comment. It still doesn't take away from the fact that you're blocking unemployment benefits senator. Nice try.

    April 6, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  2. laurence

    God bless that man!

    April 6, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  3. gt

    very true senator ,,, fox and msnbc are both over the top

    April 6, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  4. Independent_me

    Well, blow me down!
    A Conservative with a conscience????

    Quick, somebody... do something to protect this rare specie, this abberation, from the Republican firestorm that is about to erupt against him!!!

    April 6, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  5. Independent_me

    Are we witnessing the birth of a true Maverick, America???


    April 6, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  6. Angus McDugan

    It seems that Dems believe they need to speak down to everyone. This is just like their hero Obama who loves to scold people that disagree with his opinions. This is a very disrespectful and disturbing trend among Dems.

    Dems should treat Americans with respect even if the Dems don't like America.

    April 6, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |

    KUDOS TO COBURN. Americans have too much at stake to wallow in the bile and vitriol of Palin and Limbaugh. We need to work together – sure there will be disagreements, but we're all in this together and there's lots of work to do.

    (as a sidebar, I believe the author meant "lightning rod" rather than "lightening rod" – I'm unaware or rods that provide that "clown look" so envied by many).

    April 6, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  8. Steph

    A Republican used Fox News and Biased in the same sentence. Thank God, some reason coming from the right side of the aisle. Thank you sir for taking a stand. I don't agree with you on most issues, but I will strongly support you in calling for some balance and a basic level of human decency and respect.

    April 6, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  9. Branden

    What is wrong with this man. Doesn't he know that common sense has no place in American political discourse?

    April 6, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  10. Ralph

    Mr. Coburn, you have my admiration and respect. You will likely get lambasted from your colleagues, but kudos to you for having the ability to see past the rhetoric blind party allegiance and shed some light on reality.

    April 6, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  11. Tim, Wilmington, DE

    I can't believe what I'm seeing here. Although I am diametrically opposed to every single one of Coburn's views and detest the aura of angry, Southern white right-winger that he seems to represent, I'm very surprised and impressed with him here. It's so easy to jump on the Republican bandwagon of hate, anger and intolerance, especially when face to face with your hardcore constituents. Coburn could easily have gone off on Obama, Reid, and Pelosi, could've called the president a socialist hellbent on the destruction of freedom, gone over every right-wing talking point, much to the delight of the crowd, but he didn't. I'm really kind of in shock right now.

    April 6, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  12. James Middleton

    What a great report. My respect for Mr. Coburn has been raised considerably.

    April 6, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  13. Bill

    Finally an honest republican! One that opposes the health care bill for sane reasons actually based in reality and not lala land like Beck/Fox News! Coburn 2010!

    April 6, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    From what rock did this idiot come from? Is he for real??? He'd best start listening to Fox News if he wants the real truth!! As for Pelosi being a nice person, really? really? What a doofus!

    April 6, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  15. Dale

    He's a reasonable person. In other words, next up to be kicked out of the GOP by Boss Limbaugh.

    April 6, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  16. Shawn Davis

    I respect that. Coburn must be considering a run for president, b/c he clearly isn't winning in votes from the right for this. I hope that his party will have his back and not throw him under the bus

    April 6, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  17. mark

    Yeh if you like a scum bag.

    April 6, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  18. Barbara in AZ

    Could we have a Statesman in our midst? My compliments to you Mr Coburn.

    April 6, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  19. Four and The Door

    The people in Washington are good. They just don't know what they don't know...
    We do not like Speaker Pelosi's brand of politics. It's the same brand as Barack Obama and Harry Reid. It involves abusing the procedures of federal legislation to spend money we don't have when we can least afford it on unpopular programs in a feeble attempt to get their names in the history books. This brand of politics is not management and not what we expect from our elected officials. She might be a sweet old lady but we need to get her out of congress. This mismanagement of our resources will cripple the US economy for decades.

    April 6, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  20. Wmscot

    WOW ! Way to go Tom ! Atleast some civility from the right. Now if you can get those clowns on Fox and the radio to tone it down we might get something done in this country. I might be a LIB to some of the right wing folks but I like alot of ideas that the rebublicans have too. We are not all painted by the sme bruch as some folks would like you to think !
    So way to go TOM !

    April 6, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  21. Eric

    Wow, Tom Coburn is a good man and I have a lot of respect for him for taking this stand

    April 6, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  22. moderate

    Good for you, Tom. If people in this country were more interested in getting the facts instead of just cheering on their team we would be able to have a much more civil debate about these issues.

    April 6, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  23. Proud Liberal

    Dear Senator Coburn:

    My thanks to you for this lesson. It's a lesson I need to remember when I get snarky in my liberal rants.

    Thanks for being a class act, Mr. Senator.

    Best wishes from Boulder, Colorado

    April 6, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  24. Katie

    Good for you Sen Coburn! It's about time people in the legislature showed that you can disagree and still be respectful!! Politics has taken such an ugly turn with all the name-calling, screaming, spitting, and worse...

    Nice to know there are some politicians willing to say nice things about – even to defend – their opponents and colleagues.

    April 6, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  25. Brian

    Finally some good news to read. I'm a staunch Democrat, but I have been frustrated by the animosity that BOTH sides have taken toward each other. Just as Senator Coburn said, the fact that you disagree with someone doesn't mean they're a bad person. I disagree with what the GOP stands for, but at the same time I don't think they're bad people- they just have very different ideas from what I have. The anger toward each other among the parties in Washington needs to be toned down, and this a step toward that. Good job Coburn.

    April 6, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
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