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U.S. Senator Coburn Gives Emotional Farewell Address To Senate

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Senator Tom Coburn speaking before the Senate Thursday. Senator Tom Coburn speaking before the Senate Thursday.
WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) gave a final speech from the floor of the Senate on Thursday, marking the end of his political career.

Coburn was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004, and previously served three terms in the U.S. House. Coburn was treated for prostate cancer in 2011 and has battled numerous health issues in past years.

Coburn praised his family, staff and the other senators, yet reminded the Senate of what he wants them to do, which is to simply follow the U.S. Constitution. He stressed the importance of believing in the country and committing to the country's founding documents and philosophies.

Coburn spoke for a half hour to the Senate, at times very emotionally, at times very directly.

'Your whole goal is to protect the United States of America, its Constitution and its liberties,” he said. “It's not to provide benefits for your state. That's where we differ. That's where my conflict with my colleagues has come.'”

Read Senator Coburn's farewell address

Coburn apologized for having so many conflicts, but said it was simply because he so strongly believes in the limited government described by the founding fathers.

"And so my criticism isn't directed personally, it's because I truly believe freedom gains us more than anything we can plan up here. And not everybody agrees with me, but I know the founding fathers agreed with me."

Coburn was first elected 20 years ago, serving three terms in the house before his election to the Senate.

He announced last January he would resign two years early, and though he said it was unrelated to a continuing battle with cancer, his colleagues mentioned it several times in their tributes.

“As he departs the Senate, Tom leaves one fight to do battle with another and we send him every best wish in that fight,” U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.) said.

His Oklahoma counterpart expressed his admiration for his friend.

“That I sincerely love him and am going to be hurting with him in the troubles he has right now and troubles he might have in the future,” U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said.

Coburn leaves the Senate days after issuing another scathing criticism of the tax code and another book listing hundreds of examples of government waste.

His long term focus on spending earned praise from his colleagues.

“There is nobody who has guarded the pocketbook of the taxpayer like Tom Coburn,” U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia) said.

Former Representative James Lankford (R-Okla.) has been elected to replace Coburn, and he'll be placed in office after the first of the year.

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