June 21st, 2010
09:14 PM ET
11 years ago

Coburn declines to criticize Obama admin., Limbaugh

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/21/art.coburn.cnn.jpg caption="Sen. Tom Coburn declined to criticize Rush Limbaugh for his insistence that the administration's pressure on BP amounted to a 'shakedown'."]Washington (CNN) - A respected conservative senator, who is often critical of the Obama administration, declined Monday to criticize the administration's pressuring BP to establish a $20 billion escrow fund to help victims of the oil spill.

At the same time, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, declined to criticize Rush Limbaugh for his insistence that the administration's pressure on BP amounted to a "shakedown."

Coburn spoke to CNN Chief National Correspondent John King during an interview that aired on John King, USA.

Coburn was asked about Limbaugh's repeating that the $20 billion fund was a "shakedown." The conservative talk-radio host took aim at Republican leaders for rushing to demand that Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, retract his controversial apology to BP CEO Tony Hayward during last week's congressional hearing.

On his radio show Limbaugh said, "It was a shakedown pure and simple. And somebody had the audacity to call it what it was and everybody's running for the hills." Limbaugh added, "All you have to do is look at the polling data and the media coverage and find out what they're going to do. This is not an issue that Republicans want to go to the mattresses on, regarding the election."

Coburn was asked who he thought was right: Limbaugh or GOP House leaders.

"Oh, I don't know. I think it's the cynicism of our politics today," Coburn told King. "Nobody in either party wants to be vulnerable on any issue. And where is the real leadership?"

The Oklahoma senator also offered his thoughts on the fund itself.

"I'm not sure it's fair negotiations, because you're dealing with one very strong party and one very weak party in terms of public relations. But, you know, basically holding them accountable is where we want to be. And this is one way of doing it," Coburn said.

Filed under: BP • JKUSA • John King USA • Tom Coburn
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. The Real Tom Paine

    His silence and evasion speaks volumes: he agrees with making BP accountable, yet he is afraid to support his own leadership against someone who has never held elected office. In other words, he is afraid to speak the truth against an arrogant, overpaid, thrice-married drug addict with no children who does not care one iota about the future of a region that provides millions of people jobs and billions in revenues, both public and private. Senator Coburn is a coward.

    June 21, 2010 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  2. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Coburn is covering his... Well, everyone knows that phrase. Limbaugh is a pundit who hasn't shown to me that he does any research or has understanding of what Americans really want. There are many Americans that want this mess cleaned up and it never to happen again.

    June 21, 2010 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  3. phoenix86

    BP should be required to pay for the cleanup. What they should not be forced to do is to pay the $100 million that Obama demanded them to pay to compensate workers that are now out of a job because Obama paniced and declared a moratorium on ALL offshore drilling in the Gulf. That is the extortion/Slush Fund that Barton, Rush and other sane individuals are decrying.

    What Obama has done is patently illegal.

    June 21, 2010 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |


    In Rush They Trust!

    June 21, 2010 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  5. Frank simmons

    Don't blame me, blame the guy behind the tree.

    June 21, 2010 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  6. Brian Dodge

    "Nobody in either party wants to be vulnerable on any issue." Including Tom Coburn, who obviously won't take a stand that might offend the GObP House leaders on the one hand, or the Rush Limbaugh dittoheads on the other.

    "And where is the real leadership?"

    Not in Coburn's office. He's got his finger in the air, trying to figure out which way the political wind is going ("should I apologize to Tony Hayward for Obama's shakedown, or should I come out in favor of holding BP accountable? decisions, decisions, which one will get me re-elected? Maybe I should throw out some more"I don't know" and "I'm not sure" statements until I figure out which way to spin) so he can belatedly get out in front and claim he's been there "leading" all along.

    June 21, 2010 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  7. fortydam

    Now is the time for the GOP to put some distance between themselves and the Limbaugh, Hannity, and Glenn Becks. These folks are carving the GOP up like a pumpkin. The think there are enough tea party idiots in this country to win a big election. They still fail to realize that the tea party is in two different voting groups. The original Ron Paul young highly educated people for small government. (Which means no more war)! And the other arm of the tea party which is old and white and racist. And wants small government with the biggest military in the world.. And they want to bomb Iran right now! So when Limbaugh rallies his party, it's going to amount to about twenty percent of the GOP vote. Can you say Ralph Nader...

    June 22, 2010 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  8. zago

    One man in the Great OIL Party has a little bit of brain. There's hope

    June 22, 2010 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  9. Bill Sampson

    So you want both sides, brave senator. Please. Just like all Republicans. Playing both sides.

    June 22, 2010 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  10. Ken in NC

    Coburn did not want to cross his Republican Party Boss, Mr, Limbutt......OOOoooooooops I ment Limbaugh. He is a 32 million dollar a year entertainer. If you think he is wrong on an issue then you must speak up. You Republicans were not to scared to go over and invade Iraq and find and hang Saddam so why will you not stand up to Limbutt.

    June 22, 2010 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  11. Nini

    The only thing that went wrong was the word "apology".

    Government used its power to force a private organization to open a escrow account and also dictated the amount.

    This action by the government was not warranted by a court or a judge, this was our government being above law.

    So now if you make this argument for every privately owned organization in America you are actully defending the right of millions of American citizens. Change the name BP with Private sector.

    Then you will understand why principally it was the right argument but badly worded.

    June 22, 2010 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  12. ehwilson429

    he's too smart for Johnny King-Schwartz.
    Johnny has taken his wife's name and religion.

    June 22, 2010 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  13. wood

    Clearly, this guy doesn't want to be on the Barton side of things.. it's political suicide..

    June 22, 2010 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  14. Anonymous

    Why wouldn't he refuse to comment on Limbaugh- he's a Republican. Bash the President and accept anything said by the lunatic fringe of conservatives. Situation normal.

    June 22, 2010 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  15. La Piovra

    If BP is the weaker party in public relations, the problem isn't lack of money or lobbyists. It's the nature of the physical reality before everyone's eyes. And Rush Limbaugh, Right about everything, was truthful about one thing: what Barton said is the sort of thing current Republicans are ordered to think and vote, but never to admit to the public (viz.,why Hagel quit and Christ split)

    June 22, 2010 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
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