Obama and Coburn’s Joint Effort

Barack Obama raised questions over the weekend when asked to name Republicans that he would work with as president in an AP interview. He mentioned Dick Lugar and John Warner, but the name which created the most controversy was Tom Coburn.

I would also seek out people like Tom Coburn, who is probably the most conservative member of the U.S. Senate. He has become a friend of mine.

There was a time when having friendships and working with people from the other side of the Senate aisle was commonplace. Still, initially it was hard to see where Coburn and Obama might share common ground. One answer came in an article in The Washington Post yesterday on Obama’s chief of staff Pete Rouse:

Under Rouse’s guidance, Obama built close relations with one of the most conservative members of the Senate, Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), working with him to pass a bill that creates a Google-like search system and database to help Americans easily search government spending. He worked with another Republican, Sen. Richard G. Lugar (Ind.), to increase U.S. funding to find and dispose of loose antiaircraft missiles and other weapons in the former Soviet Union.

While Obama’s mention of Coburn brought attacks from supporters of some of the other candidates, showing such an ability to work with any Republican, even Coburn, will come as a welcome sign of reversing the hyper-partisanship of recent years to many voters.

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