During a speaking tour of his home state, Coburn also described his fellow senators as a “class of career elitists” and jokingly voiced his frustrations by saying “it’s just a good thing I can’t pack a gun on the Senate floor,” according to an account of the senator’s comments published on the Tulsa World’s website.
Coburn offered a defense of the president when a voter asked the lawmaker whether Obama wants to destroy the country. Obama and Coburn have publicly called each other friends from their days as Senate colleagues.
Obama’s “intent isn’t to destroy,” Coburn said, according to a transcript of the senator’s remarks that the Tulsa World reporter, Randy Krehbiel, provided to the Plum Line, a Washington Post blog, and said in an e-mail was accurately reproduced there. “It’s to create dependency because it worked so well for him,” the senator added.
“As an African-American male, coming through the progress of everything he experienced, he got tremendous benefit through a lot of these programs. So he believes in them,” Coburn said.
The senator didn’t specify the programs to which he was referring.
“I just don’t believe they work overall, and in the long run they don’t help our country,” Coburn is quoted as saying in the transcript. Obama “doesn’t know that because his life experience is something different.”
Becky Bernhardt, the senator’s spokeswoman, said in an e- mail that Coburn “was obviously joking” when he remarked about not being able to be armed on the Senate floor “and would be happy to apologize to any of his colleagues who were offended.”
She didn’t respond to questions about Coburn’s comments on Obama.
Coburn said it would be wrong to conclude that Obama “doesn’t love our country. I think he does.” And “there’s nothing wrong with his philosophy other than it’s goofy and wrong,” the senator said.
Jen Psaki, deputy communications director for the White House, declined to comment on Coburn’s remarks.
To contact the reporter on this story: James Rowley in Washington at 1913 or firstname.lastname@example.org