Entries in Oklahoma (10)


Obama: Country Will Be ‘Shelter from the Storm’ for Oklahoma

Oklahoma Cty Sheriff(MOORE, Okla.) -- Standing in front of the rubble of Plaza Towers Elementary School, which was destroyed by last week’s tornado, President Obama offered words of support to the community of Moore, Okla., saying that people across this country will serve as a “shelter from the storm” for all those impacted by the deadly tornadoes.

 “God has a plan, and it’s important to know that we also recognize we’re instruments of His will, and we need to know that as fellow Americans, we’re going to be there as shelter from the storm for the people of Moore,” the president said in Moore, Okla. at the site where seven students were killed by the tornado on Monday. “When we say we’ve got your backs, I promise you, we keep our word.”

President Obama expressed admiration for the Oklahoma community as it weathered the storm that killed 24 people and looked forward to recovery.

 “People here pride themselves on the Oklahoma standard. What Governor Fallin’s called being able to work through disasters like this and come out stronger on the other side,” he said. “From the forecasters who issued the warnings to the first responders who dug through the rubble to the teachers who shielded with their own bodies their own students, Oklahomans have inspired us with their love and their courage and their fellowship.”

 “This is a strong community with strong character. There’s no doubt they’re going to bounce back, but they need help just like any of us would need help if we saw the kind of devastation that we’re seeing here,” he said. “We know Moore is going to come back stronger from this tragedy.”

The president urged Americans to donate to the American Red Cross and assured the people of Moore that resources will be made available to aid in the community’s recovery efforts. But as the community looks ahead to rebuilding, the president also issued a reminder that the funding of training programs for first responders is critical to ensuring lives continue to be saved in future disasters.

“Training, education, both for citizenry but also for first responders is absolutely critical, and we’ve got to make sure that those resources remain in place,” he said. “We can’t shortchange that kind of ongoing disaster response. We can’t just wait till the disaster happens.  That’s how in part we’re able to save a lot of lives.”

With children’s toys still strewn amid the rubble, the president walked through a neighborhood impacted by the storm before touring the site of Plaza Elementary School.

The president was accompanied by FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, Okla. Gov. Mary Fallin, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., and Moore Mayor Glenn Lewis on his walk through the devastated sites.

Following his brief statement at the elementary school, the president met with first responders and families of the children whose lives were lost at Plaza Towers Elementary School due to the tornado at a local fire station.

Prior to the president’s arrival in Oklahoma Sunday, Fallin expressed concern that “red tape” could hinder recovery efforts in the wake of the tornado.

“We first of all appreciate the president coming to Oklahoma to see the devastation. It is huge here. And a lot of need here. But basically, what I need is the ability to get through red tape, the ability to get the FEMA funds in here quickly and to get the services that our citizens need to help them recover through this terrible disaster,” she said on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday.

Earlier this week, the president signed a major disaster declaration for Oklahoma and approved additional assistance for the state, including a Debris Removal Pilot Program, which increased the federal share of costs for debris removal to 85 percent for the first 30 days, a White House official said Sunday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama Cuts Red Tape for Part of Keystone

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- During a visit to Cushing, Okla., on Thursday, President Obama will announce an Executive Order requiring expedited permitting and review of “vital infrastructure projects,” including the southern portion of the controversial Keystone pipeline.

The order will establish a multi-agency task force to identify the most urgent projects by the end of April and create a roadmap for permitting them by the end of May, the White House says.

The effort will streamline the existing ordeal by reducing duplicate efforts and enhancing coordination between decision-makers, officials say. It’s expected to “significantly reduce” the wait time for all major pending highway, port, airport, electricity transmission and pipeline projects.

Obama will also issue a presidential memorandum making the Cushing pipeline, which would run from Oklahoma to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico, a top priority.

“The need for pipeline infrastructure is urgent because rising American oil production is outpacing the capacity of pipelines to deliver oil to refineries,” the administration said in statement.

Obama will also make it clear that the expedited process must not sacrifice “the health, safety and security of communities and the environment.”

While the president’s announcement focuses on the domestic portion of the Keystone XL pipeline, Republicans have not relented in criticizing his decision to block the northern portion that would extend to the tar sands of Alberta, Canada.

"There is only one permit that matters for this pipeline, and the president continues to block it,” said Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. “The approval needed for this leg of the project is so minor and routine that only a desperate administration would inject the President of the United States into the process. This is like the governor holding a press conference to renew my driver’s license -- except this announcement still leaves American energy and jobs behind.”

Republicans and some Democrats have pressed Obama to approve the entire pipeline which is estimated to create thousands of jobs.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Anti-Abortion Activist Challenges Obama in Democratic Primary

Digital Vision/Thi​nkstock(OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla.) -- Veteran anti-abortion activist Randall Terry won more than 18,400 votes, or 18 percent, in Oklahoma’s Democratic presidential primary Tuesday — a significant showing in a year when incumbent President Barack Obama has nationally faced no serious challenge from within his own party.

Obama won more than 54,000 votes, or 55 percent, according to preliminary results from the Oklahoma State Election Board. Democrats who largely turned out did so in a symbolic show of force for Obama in one of the nation’s reddest states. (Republican Sen. John McCain carried Oklahoma with 65 percent of the vote in 2008 to Obama’s 34 percent.)

Support for Terry highlights, at least in part, the prevalence of anti-abortion Democrats in the country’s mid-section, where social issues are of comparatively higher salience for all voters.

Terry, who founded Operation Rescue, formally launched a primary challenge to Obama in January 2011 with the stated intention of raising the profile of his anti-abortion views.

“I want to pummel Obama. I despise this presidency. He is the arch child-killer of the Western Hemisphere, so I’m going to go head-to-head with him,” Terry told ABC News in a phone interview at the time.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Santorum Wins in Tenn., Okla., N.D.; Ohio Still Too Tight to Call

Whitney Curtis/Getty Images(STEUBENVILLE, Ohio) -- While Mitt Romney has won four Super Tuesday contests and Rick Santorum has won three so far, all eyes are fixed on a close race in Ohio, where the two are locked in a tight race.

The contest in Ohio, where polls closed at 7:30 p.m. ET, was too close to predict a winner based on exit polls.

Romney won handily in Virginia, where he was the only candidate on the ballot aside from Ron Paul; in Massachusetts, the state he governed; and in Vermont, which neighbors the Bay State. He also won the Idaho caucuses.

Santorum triumphed in Tennessee, a southern state in which his conservative message has resonated, and in Oklahoma, the reddest state in the union. In both states, voters who called themselves religious and very conservative lifted Santorum over Romney, who has struggled for months to persuade the right wing of the party that he's right for them. He also won the caucuses in North Dakota.

"We have won in the West, the Midwest and the South, and we're ready to win across this country," Santorum told enthusiastic supporters in Ohio as the vote there was being counted.

The former Pennsylvania senator added, excitedly: "In every case, we overcame the odds. Here in Ohio, still too close to call."

ABC News also projects that, as expected, Newt Gingrich will win the only Super Tuesday state to which he gave attention -- his home state of Georgia, which he represented as a member of Congress.

In a victory speech in Atlanta, Gingrich called himself the "tortoise" who will win the nomination and mocked the attention given to Santorum after the ex-senator won three primaries in states that the other candidates had mostly ignored.

"The news media, once again, desperate to prove Gingrich was wrong, suddenly said, 'Ah, now we have the person who's going to be the non-Romney,' " Gingrich said.

Making his pitch to his supporters, Gingrich called himself "the one candidate who can debate Barack Obama," drawing on one of his noteworthy strengths that has been evident in the nearly two dozen GOP primary debates.

The most contested and watched vote is in the swing state of Ohio, where Santorum led in the polls until just a few days ago. Now the race is as good as a tie, and the winner there will most likely be deemed the winner of Super Tuesday expectations.

Exit polls found that more than half of voters said Romney was the candidate most fit to beat President Obama. But when asked which candidate "best understands the problems of average Americans," fewer than one-quarter of voters picked Romney. About one-third chose Santorum in that category.

The candidates are fighting for 437 delegates just Tuesday, more than all the delegates that have been won already. Romney is in the lead with 203, and Santorum is in a solid second place with 92. The race ends once a candidate gets 1,144.

Georgia offers the most delegates in Tuesday's voting with 76. Other big states are Ohio (66), Tennessee (58), Virginia (49) and Oklahoma (43). Three other states voting in caucuses Tuesday award fewer -- Idaho, North Dakota and Alaska.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gingrich Campaign Launches Santorum Attack Robo-call in Two States

Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is hunkering down in the trenches of the Southern battleground for Super Tuesday with a robo-call attacking Rick Santorum for being a “big labor conservative.”

This is the first paid advertisement against Santorum from the Gingrich campaign. The call is set to begin Friday in Oklahoma and Tennessee and will reach 150,000 households in each state.

The robo-call, narrated by a woman, was recorded Thursday. The ad begins by saying Santorum “talks a good game” about his blue collar roots, and that he doesn’t want you to know Santorum “cozied up to the labor union bosses” and voted against a national right-to-work bill that would have let workers opt out of paying union dues. “Union dues that hurt families and small businesses. Rick Santorum, friend of working families or the union bosses pal? You decide.”

Since venturing to Tennessee and Georgia for a week of campaigning, Gingrich has attacked Santorum in speeches at various campaign stops. On Thursday he urged voters not to vote for “Pennsylvania big labor baloney.” Gingrich’s daughter Jackie and former presidential candidate Herman Cain will travel to Tennessee next Tuesday. Later in the week Jackie, Cain and J.C. Watts will travel to Oklahoma to campaign for Gingrich.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Asks Oklahoma Voters for an ’08 Repeat

James Devaney/WireImage(OKLAHOMA CITY) -- Stumping Friday at a GOP 2012 Victory Rally in Oklahoma, Mitt Romney got a standing ovation from the crowd as he told them to repeat their performance during the last election, when every county in the state voted for the Republican ticket.

“I want you to know we’re optimistic,” Romney said during his first visit to the Sooner State since announcing his candidacy last year. "If we can get the spirit of Oklahoma to spread across the entire nation, and win every county, that would be awful darn good.”

All 77 counties in Oklahoma voted for the McCain-Palin ticket in the 2008 election.

“I don’t know how you guys did it,” Romney said. “But I’m glad you did."

“That was a big statement to become the reddest state in America and have every county support the Republican ticket,” he said. “You guys are smarter than the rest of the country, I’m afraid."

“There were some people like right here in Oklahoma who said wait a second, what if you chose someone as president who has no experience?” Romney, 64, said. “Now we know, not a very good thing, is it?”

Romney got a warm reception from the crowd indoors, which frequently broke into applause, as he declared that Obama would be a one-term president.

“I happen to think we’re going to be highly united as a party,” he said. “I think the reason for that is that Barack Obama … has brought together the conservative movement in a way nobody would have imagined. He was once a community organizer and he’s proving he can do it again. I don’t think this was the community he was hoping to organize. But he sure has motivated us.”

Talking about trade and business models, Romney referenced Fisker Automotive, a company the federal government gave a $529 million loan and is now assembling its first line of cars in Finland. “I believe in free enterprise, not in crony capitalism,” Romney said.

Romney took a few questions from the crowd about his tax plan -- he said he’d remove the burden on the middle class -- and about his views on gun control, to which he responded he supports the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

While the reception inside was positive -- one supporter who came to shake hands with Romney assured him he could beat fellow GOP candidate Herman Cain and told him “not to worry” -- protestors did picket outside the event, holding signs accusing Romney of being a flip-flopper.

The event, attended by more than 150 people, cost a little more than $20 to attend. Romney also attended a private fundraiser in Oklahoma City Friday morning.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Biden: Obama Has ‘Backbone Like a Ramrod’

ABC News(TULSA, Okla.) -- Republican presidential contenders have hammered President Obama this week as a cautious and ineffectual world leader, insisting that he lacks -- in the words of Rep. Michele Bachmann -- a "titanium spine."

But Vice President Joe Biden proved Tuesday he won’t let the attacks go unanswered, telling a crowd of campaign donors in Tulsa, Okla., again asserting the president has "a backbone like a ramrod."

“Presidential elections are about strength and character,” Biden said, according to press pool reports. “It’s the one race that’s measured different than any other in American politics. It comes down, in relative terms, to who has the most strength and the most character. People knew Barack was really bright, they knew Barack was straight, they knew Barack was a different kind of politician. What they didn’t know was just how strong he was,” he said. “Republicans spent a lot of time trying to tag him as a follower, not a leader. Well, he’s put that to bed.”

Biden cited Obama’s decision to order a covert raid on Osama bin Laden’s Pakistani compound as proof the president is a strong commander in chief. And he said Obama’s role in the debt ceiling debate was equally strong, brokering a deal with Republican leadership that ultimately fell to Tea Party intransigence.

“This is going to be the clearest-cut election,” Biden said. “This is going to be the clearest choice of where we want to be. These guys have laid it out where they want us to be. And we’re going to debate it. We’re not going to debate just in terms of, you know, a 30-second political ad. Paul Ryan laid out their budget. Their budget, over the next decade, eviscerates -- eliminates -- Medicare. They say it’s a voucher system. I call that eliminating it.”

The statement was a characteristic Joe Biden flourish; Ryan has no plan to eliminate Medicare, but he -- like many on Capitol Hill -- desire reforming the program, which many experts see as unsustainable.

Biden made the remarks at a private fundraiser at the Tulsa home of Dr. Stephen Adelson. Donations benefitted the Obama Victory Fund, a joint account that funnels money to Obama’s reelection campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

Incidentally, this isn't the first time Biden referenced Obama's vertebrae. In 2008, when he was a vice presidential candidate, then Sen. Biden said in a stump speech in Seattle: "Mark my words: it will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. Watch," Biden warned, "We're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy and they’re going to find out this guy's got steel in his spine." Biden never did explain what the "generated crisis" of which he was so certain actually was.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Coburn: 'Send Me Senators With Gonads'

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), who is part of a bi-partisan effort to address the budget crisis, said Wednesday that real reform is possible if he can find more senators “who have some gonads.”

“Send me some Senators who have some gonads,” Senator Coburn said in an interview with conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt.

Coburn was talking about the plan he is developing as part of the so-called “Gang of Six” -- three Democrats and three Republicans who are developing a bi-partisan plan to reduce the deficit with a mix of steep spending cuts, entitlement reform and increased tax revenue.

The Gang of Six has been tight-lipped about their discussions, but Coburn revealed some of the details of their emerging plans.

Coburn said the plan would include $800 billion in deficit reduction to be agreed on this year with a commitment of another $3.3 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years.  He said 85 percent of that would come from spending cuts and 15 percent would come from a tax reform plan that would increase tax revenue.

“If I could get a true down payment of around $800 billion dollars this year, with a mandate that we get another $3.3 billion dollars, and 85 percent of it come from cuts, 15 percent comes from dynamic effects of rate lowering, what would you say to that?” Coburn asked Hewitt.

“I’d say amen,” Hewitt responded.

“Okay, that’s what we’re trying to work on,” Coburn said. “But if I don’t get something that good, I won’t be going for it.”

A Coburn spokesman declined to comment on the status of the negotiations.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


ABC News: Oklahoma Elects First Female Governor

Photo Courtesy - MaryFallin[dot]org(OKLAHOMA CITY) -- In an historic election where two women faced off for the governor's seat in Oklahoma for the first time, ABC News is projecting that Republican candidate Rep. Mary Fallin will defeat Democratic Lt. Gov. Jari Askins, based on exit polls.

Having a female opponent didn't stop Fallin from taking a few jabs at her challenger over women's issues towards the end of the campaign. At a debate in October, Fallin said, "I think my experience is one of the things that sets me apart as a candidate for governor. First of all, being a mother, having children, raising a family."

Askins, a former judge who has never been married or had children, later defended herself on ABC's Good Morning America, saying neither marriage nor parenting experience should be a prerequisite for being governor.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Okla. Gov's Race Debate: Unmarried Women Fit for Office?

Lt. Gov. Jari Askins (L) and U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin. Photos Courtesy - Office of Lt. Gov. Jari Askins / Fallin for Governor 2010(OKLAHOMA CITY) -- Women are poised to make history in Oklahoma next week, when the state will elect its first female governor. And in the final stretch of the campaign between Democratic Lt. Gov. Jari Askins and Republican U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin, the experience of motherhood has emerged as a contentious debating point.

"I think my experience is one of the things that sets me apart as a candidate for governor. First of all, being a mother, having children, raising a family," Fallin, 55, said at a debate last week.

Askins, 57, a former judge who has never been married or had children, says neither marriage nor parenting experience should matter.

"You know, in Oklahoma, all of our governors have been men. So none of them have been mothers," she told ABC News on Tuesday. "I think most of them have done a pretty good job so I don't think that's a criteria."

Fallin and Askins are vying to succeed outgoing Democratic Gov. Brad Henry, who is term-limited. Their race is only the third time in U.S. history two women have gone head-to-head for a state's top job. The New Mexico gubernatorial race this year is the fourth.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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