Vice President Visits Tulsa: Cheney, Inhofe blast Democrats' plan for Iraq
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Saturday, April 28, 2007
5/04/07 at 4:39 PM
This story incorrectly
reported that U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe has no formally
declared 2008 opponent. Tulsa Republican
Stephen Wallace is challenging Inhofe.
VP makes brief remarks at GOP fundraiser event
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe rolled out one of the Republican's biggest guns Friday for the first salvo in his 2008 re-election campaign.
Vice President Dick Cheney urged about 225 Republican supporters at the Doubletree Hotel Downtown to elect Inhofe to a third full term, calling Oklahoma's senior senator "smart, tough (and) principled" and "a voice of responsibility and common sense" on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
"There is no better fit than Jim Inhofe and Oklahoma," Cheney said.
Most of Cheney's 17-minute speech was routine campaign fare -- praise for Inhofe and the Bush administration, criticism for Democrats and their "unseriousness" about the war in Iraq and international terrorism.
Inhofe, speaking to the press before Cheney's arrival, lambasted Democrats for Thursday's Senate vote to begin withdrawal from Iraq by Oct. 1 and the press for "mischaracterizing" the reasons for U.S. involvement.
"The whole idea of weapons of mass destruction was never the issue, yet they keep trying to bring this up," Inhofe said.
When asked why Gen. Colin Powell, then U.S. secretary of state, told the United Nations in 2003 that such weapons posed an imminent danger, Inhofe replied: "I can't answer that. In fact, I've never been one of the real strong fans of General Powell."
Pressed for an explanation, Inhofe said weapons of mass destruction were "incidental" to the decision to invade Iraq.
"The media made that the issue because they knew Saddam Hussein had used weapons of mass destruction. So we knew that they were there. But that was incidental to the fact we were going after terrorist camps."
Inhofe said Thursday's vote, mostly along party lines, to begin withdrawal from Iraq "was probably the most disappointing day I've had . . . in the United States Senate."
Inhofe said a private meeting Thursday with Gen. David Petraeus, U.S. commander in Iraq, provided further evidence of progress in the conflict. When it was pointed out that this week has seen some of the deadliest days of the four-year conflict, In hofe said, "There will be more bad days, too."
Friday was the fifth time Cheney has appeared in Oklahoma on Inhofe's behalf, dating back to the 1980s when both were in the U.S. House of Representatives. Inhofe told reporters his friend "has the guts of a sea lion" and "may be the most abused person in Washington."
Inhofe was sharply critical of fellow party members seeking to distance themselves from the Cheney and Bush administration ahead of the 2008 elections.
"I really believe we have a bunch of mushy Republicans," he said. "They are so afraid of the press they dishonor themselves."
Cheney arrived in Tulsa at around 11 a.m. and posed for photos with donors before speaking. He left immediately after his remarks.
Cheney said the Democratic leadership's "prevailing mindset, combined with a series of ill-considered actions in the House and Senate over the last several months, causes me to wonder whether today's Democratic leaders fully appreciate the nature of this danger that the country faces in the war on terror -- a war that was declared against us by jihadists; a war in which the United States went on offense after 9/11; a war whose central front, in the opinion and actions of the enemy, is Iraq."
He criticized Democrats for "endlessly shifting positions" on the war and said Americans have a right to ask whether these are "a reflection of principle, or of partisanship and blind opposition to the administration."
Cheney touted the administration's economic policies and said the temporary tax cuts enacted in President Bush's first term should be made permanent.
The vice president received standing ovations at the beginning and end of his speech and was interrupted by applause 12 times.
Prior to Cheney's appearance, First District Congressman John Sullivan and Second District Congresswoman Mary Fallin spoke on Inhofe's behalf. Fallin said Inhofe has lent "a voice of logic and reason" on the Environment and Public Works Committee concerning global climate change.
Inhofe has been outspokenly skeptical of scientists' claim that Earth's atmosphere is undergoing potentially dangerous changes because of human activity.
Others at Friday's $250 per person luncheon included state Sens. Randy Brogdon of Owasso, Bill Brown of Broken Arrow and Brian Bingman of Sapulpa; Tulsa County Commissioner John Smaligo; Oklahoma GOP Chairman Gary Jones; and Tulsa County Republican Chairwoman Joy Mohorovicic.
First elected to public office 40 years ago, the 72-year-old Inhofe served in the Legislature and as Tulsa mayor before winning election to the U.S. House in 1986. He defeated fellow Congressman Dave McCurdy for a vacant Senate seat in 1994 and won his first full term two years later.
No challenger to Inhofe has formally declared.
Randy Krehbiel 581-8365
Vice President Dick Cheney (left) greets U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe during a fundraiser Friday at the Doubletree Hotel Downtown to support the
Oklahoma Republican’s re-election.