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

Coburn declines to criticize Obama admin., Limbaugh

Sen. Tom Coburn declined to criticize Rush Limbaugh for his insistence that the administration's pressure on BP amounted to a 'shakedown'.

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. Lin

    A respected conservative senator??!! Who wrote this? Inhofe's press secretary? The guy is an absolute doofus who is also in bed with the oil companies! Check out his campaign donors...

    June 21, 2010 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  2. Cathy

    Thank goodness, Obama was able to do something.. Rush Limbaugh would sell out his own mother if he thought it would make him money and bring him attention. Everyone knows that and everyone is so afraid of him.. Sad situation in the U.S a this time, when a radio talk show host holds the Republican Party Hostage..

    June 21, 2010 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  3. JonDie

    "Limbaugh suggested the GOP leadership likely agrees with Barton's sentiments, but are driven by recent national polls..."

    There is no doubt that the GOP leadership supports Barton's point of view but is apologetic for strategic reasons. If the GOP leaders were Democrats like Rahm Emmanuel, Sarah Palin would be calling them liars.

    June 21, 2010 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  4. S Callahan

    Well, you have to admit he is right to make the point...Where is the leadership.....it's always seems to be the blind leading the blind (no pun intended)....who has courage to be a real leader anymore and not a follower?

    June 21, 2010 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  5. Donnatella

    You notice that all of these guys are scared of Limbaugh, he must put a lot of money in the in the RNC. Punks all of them.

    June 21, 2010 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  6. John

    It looks like Senator Colburn thinks that the American taxpayer should pay for a private corporations pollution on American soil. The good Senator is very vocal in opposition to all Democratic ideas but, he seems to think that our national resources should be used to help a foreign corporation maximize profits by taxing Americans to pay for their mess.

    June 21, 2010 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  7. Belinda

    This makes me sick. How low can Republicans get? I think we have our answer. It appears Barton has a screw loose and instead of threatening to take him off this very important post, he should have gone flying out of there. This man is an embarrassment to Texas,as well as other high profile Republicans. Gov. Rick Perry is one of the BP lovers, they will try and turn this political, so they can continue to gain money wise from their corrupt corporate advantage. Republicans are pulling strings with the Supreme court to release their buddy, Skillings from prison where he deserves to spend the rest of his life for what he and Enron have done to working families . I have not seen Republicans actually finally admit to what everyone knows is the truth. Republicans care more about corporate interests than working families. This is the bottom line. The tea party and corporate interests are what The Republican party is all about and they are no longer afraid to admit it, as tho people don't understand what it really means. Rove where are u when they need u??? Disgusted in Texas

    June 21, 2010 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    Translation: Coburn is a Republican Senator who agrees with President Obama in making BP commit to the $20 billion fund, but is afraid if he says that or criticizes Limbaugh, he'll have the full weight (pun intended) of Limbaugh come down on him.

    Rush Limbaugh runs the GOP – there's no doubt.

    And the GOP is nothing but a bunch of pitiful scaredy-cats, letting a bully push them around.

    Listen-up, America. This is what the GOP has to offer our country.


    June 21, 2010 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  9. 8 years of the Bush Error = How many years of recession and unemployment?

    Guess it would have been better for the company lawyers to drag it out for years and get a third of the 20 billion, if the award had been that high, and give the remaining 14 billion to folks on the Gulf Coast say in 8 to 10 years?

    Neo-cons are pathetic patsies of big business.


    June 21, 2010 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  10. WBinNT

    I can't keep track of all the double negatives...apologies for apologies...declining to criticize...

    June 21, 2010 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  11. Angus McDugan

    The bottom line is that it was very poor timing to apologize to BP. i.e., Poor thinking and insensitive to Americans who are affected. BP screwed-up and knows that this will cost way more than $20B to correct. There was no shake down. Obama did not force anything to happen. In fact, BP was hoping for an offer such as this. Given that Obama has muddied the cost of impact situation by forcing a halt to off-shore activities for 6 months, BP welcomed this and will use it to their advantage. GOP was right in demanding an apology. Rush may be right in principal, but he is wrong in the reality of this situation. We must do what is right and not force political score keeping on America.

    June 21, 2010 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  12. Daniel

    Obama had the guts to take BP to task. Coburn doesn't have the nerve to challenge Limbaugh.

    June 21, 2010 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  13. laurence

    just another republican afraid of limpbaugh.

    June 21, 2010 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  14. AqChicago

    Money Talks!
    We all know that this was the right thing to do- Make sure to get BP to commit by asking for a fund. We also surely know BP that would have, in the best interests of shareholders, never committed to such a big amount if we had let this at its discretion. SO WHAT, if the white house admin negotiated. Criticism is coming from Joe Barton who received $1.4MM from the oil companies and from Rush, who is a third grade street fighter with no moral values. Other republicans are running for cover because of their true colors are kind of out – let the rich alone get richer, support the companies and get funded by them. Money Talks!

    June 21, 2010 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  15. Larry

    Lifelong Dem here, but I am actually embarrassed FOR many of the Republicans because this Rush Limbaugh fellow can have his way with any of them, politically speaking. He's the big, bad Daddy for each of them, and to see grown men (supposedly) bend over and take it from the mighty Mr. FatBoy must be, I am sure, sobering to them to say the least.

    I'm sure that, somewhat like in prison when the overpowering Big Bubba visits your cell, it must be humiliating, but at least it's not done in public. With these Republican congressmen, however, this same thing is played out on a very public stage for even their supporters to see, and it must be devastating.

    To watch Joe Barton squirm and crawl during his apology to an apology reminded me of moments during childhood and adolescence. Seeing grown men getting taken to the woodshed will give pause to many would-be voters, especially when seen crawfishing and even groveling.

    June 21, 2010 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  16. Karen

    An Oklahoma gentleman!

    June 21, 2010 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  17. James A.

    Senator Coburn missed an excellent opportunity to start a GOP mutiny to tell Rush Limbaugh where to go. Limbaugh uses intimidation, blackmail, and vicious propaganda to manipulate all of the remaining members of the GOP that still have a conscience (which is most of them, incidentally). Limbaugh is singlehandedly destroying this country as we stand by and allow him to take more and more control of our government (ironic, isn’t it?). Limbaugh has already gone far further than the simple use of “Freedom of Speech”; he is guilty of SEDITION – look up the definition of this word!

    June 21, 2010 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  18. Danny Cali

    Tom Coburn is the Southern Chicken that's why he don't want to criticized Mr. Limbaugh, Mr. Coburn just stay with the big "NO".

    June 21, 2010 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  19. Drew

    Vote them all out. If it is the lesser of two evils, the Dems win by a long distance.
    Wake up America – the Republicans are evil – plain and simple.

    June 21, 2010 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  20. The reality is...

    it was a "shakedown" and Obama can get away with it because people are angry about the disaster, but who is going to "shakedown" Obama and his cronies for destroying this nation? There is a much worse disaster in the making than a lot of people realize.

    June 21, 2010 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  21. Chris

    For heavens sake, Tom....GROW A PAIR, WILL YA? Tell Limbaugh he's old news and totally out of touch with reality.

    June 21, 2010 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  22. g

    if criticize rush or palin the leaders off the dying republican party he would be done like a dinner

    June 21, 2010 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  23. taxpayer

    On the escrow fund – how else would anyone expect BP to be accountable?

    Send them to bed without their dinner? Forfeit tv? No sleep overs?

    The only practical solution for the financial costs of the oil spill is their payments. And the escrow fund is some assurance against BP filing for bankruptcy, which would wipe out every claim and all the shareholders.

    Don't know what else the President can do either. He negotiated the escrow fund. He's made National Guards available – although hiring local employed or affected workers with government supervision might help more people and get the marshes cleaned up more efficiently, BUT the reality is that the flow of oil has to be stopped, and clearly efforts are being made to do that.

    Maybe out of this might come less unrealistic expectations, and some constructive efforts.

    June 21, 2010 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  24. Eunice in Memphis, Tennessee

    They are afraid of Rush Limbaugh. Rush does not speak for most people. But he does speak for the people who follow his show. What a
    shame. Rush does not live the life that he preach. He is rich and lives a rich life. i .e. Elton John!!!

    June 21, 2010 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  25. Debbie from Arizona

    Did Limbaugh actually say "go to the mattresses"? I find that sort of a Freudian slip about Republicans being in bed with the big oil companies. What would really surprise me, would be if a Republican every made a statement, without qualifying it first with, Oh, I don't know, but or I think he's right, but.

    June 21, 2010 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
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