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Oklahoma delegation responds to president's speech

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ President Bush offered sound economic policies in his State of the Union address and left no doubt that war with Iraq is looming, the state's congressional delegation said Tuesday night.

``He made it very clear that we're out of time and we're out of options in Iraq,'' said Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. ``That means one thing: We're going to have to do it. It's evident that something is going to happen as soon as he can get everything lined up.''

Inhofe said he believes it will take 10 days to two weeks to prepare for war.

``Once we get rid of Saddam Hussein, they'll be dancing in the streets, not only in Baghdad but throughout the entire Middle East,'' he said.

Inhofe said he was impressed with Bush's new initiative to encourage power plants to clean up emissions with financial incentives. Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, will write the bill.

Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said he enjoyed Bush's focus on the domestic economy and that he was pleasantly surprised the president spoke about humanitarian efforts to help AIDS victims in Africa.

``We are humanitarian people,'' Lucas said. ``We would help a family down the street or across the street from us.''

Like other Republican members of Oklahoma's delegation, Lucas supported Bush's comments about Saddam Hussein. The congressman said he appreciated the president's methodical, thorough description of the biological and chemical weapons that are unaccounted for and how destructive they could be.

``I think he made it very clear that this is the last opportunity,'' he said.

The president clearly explained ``why free people must determine their own destiny and not allow a terrorist dictator to torment us,'' Lucas said.

Rep. Brad Carson, D-Okla, said the president's speech was ``well-crafted'' but ``left a lot of questions unanswered.'' Carson said Bush did not provide enough details about why the United States should attack Iraq.

``He instead talked about a number of matters that have already been in the press,'' Carson said. ``I think everyone is waiting with bated breath for the new evidence.''

Carson called Bush's economic ideas ``sufficient, as far as they went.''

``I don't think he talked about many ideas that would actually get the economy going,'' he said.

Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla, said he agreed with the president that the country cannot pass its problems with Iraq to another Congress or another generation.

``Iraq is not the only country with weapons of mass destruction, but he emphasized that it has shown the most propensity to use them,'' Istook said. ``Saddam Hussein has used them against his own people, and against Iran, and wanted to use them in the Gulf War. We were strong enough to stop him then, and we must be ready to do so again _ before he uses those weapons of mass destruction.''

Istook said he supported Bush's ideas to jump-start the economy.

``I agree we need to unshackle the people who make jobs in America,'' he said. ``The best way to make sure people have money is to not take it away from them in the first place.

``The president didn't just talk about government programs, but about the principles we believe in as Americans and I thought that was proper.''

Rep. John Sullivan, R-Okla, said he was pleased to hear about Bush's ``plans to grow the economy and create jobs with tax incentives and have broad tax relief.''

``He also wants to strengthen and improve health care and strengthen Medicare and help our seniors with prescription drug benefits,'' Sullivan said. ``He also focused on acts of compassion, helping kids and seniors.''

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla, said ``the remarkable part of the speech was laying out the case against Iraq.'' He called the president's economic proposals ``bold and very broad'' and said he was impressed with the compassion Bush showed toward Africa.

``The AIDS initiative, frankly, I think was striking and will go down as a historic gesture,'' Cole said.

Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla, said the president issued a challenge to Congress to ``to work in a bipartisan fashion to put the president's proposals into action this year.''

``He clearly articulated our need to grow the economy, strengthen and improve the health care system, and protect American lives from our enemies here and abroad,'' he said.

``Congress must be vigilant and fulfill our responsibilities to this great country.''
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