The Duncan Banner

August 29, 2013

Cole talks Syria, Obamacare at town hall meeting

By Mike Smith
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN —  U.S. Rep. Tom Cole told a Duncan town hall audience Wednesday that Obamacare is terrible and should go, but he does not favor defunding it if that means shutting down the government.

Cole, R-Okla., also told about 100 people who attended the meeting at the Red River Technology Center that he is very skeptical about using military force in Syria and President Obama should seek congressional approval before doing so.

Obama “irresponsibly drew red lines in the sand” in threatening action if Syria used chemical weapons in the war-torn country, Cole said, and now seems bent on a military response to new claims that Syrian President Bashar-al Assad has used them.

He said Obama taking U.S. military action “would be using military means to give him credibility for probably saying something he shouldn’t have said.”

Cole, who represents the state’s 4th congressional district that includes Duncan, touched on numerous other issues, fielded several questions and listened to suggestions.

Jan Preece Gaddis, an attorney from Duncan, was passionate in urging Cole to join about 80 other House GOP members in demanding that Obamacare be defunded.

They have signed a letter asking Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio to defund Obamacare as part of a spending bill.

Preece Gaddis said she wasn’t interested in the “political chess game” going on with Obamacare or the political takes of Karl Rove, a former deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush and a major GOP fundraiser.

“We need you to stand up for us,” Preece Gaddis said. “Karl Rove does not vote for you — we do!” she said.

Cole said he had voted 40 times to repeal Obamacare, but he was not willing to stop all appropriations and shut down the government in September unless Obamacare is defefunded.

“I think it would be a political disaster (for Republicans) in 2014,” he said.

He said he was not willing to cut federal money streams used to pay for military personnel, veterans, the National Weather Service and other vital services and programs just to make a statement on Obamacare.

Preece Gaddis said Cole was trying to “blackmail us emotionally” by touching on such things as veterans.

“I am not blackmailing you,” Cole said. “I have voted to defund this 40 times.”

He said even if the House voted to defund Obamacare, the Democrat-controlled Senate would never go along. That, he said, was simply a political reality.

He said Republicans “threw away” six likely Senate seats in the past two elections and the best way to make serious inroads in dismantling Obamacare was to win back the Senate in 2014 and the White House in 2016.