Candidates trade charges at forum

Thursday, October 14th 2004, 6:19 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Democratic Senate candidate Brad Carson and Republican Tom Coburn made a pitch for business support Wednesday in a debate before the State Chamber Small Business Council.

Carson said a Boeing Corp., official told him there was ``a lack of federal leadership'' in Oklahoma and senators in other states were more aggressive in trying to get the company's business.

He said the official told him senators in states like Arkansas and Mississippi would ``raise hell'' to get or keep Boeing jobs in those states.

``I've worked for this company a very long time and those calls never came'' from Oklahoma's congressional leaders, Carson quoted the official as saying.

Tulsa voters passed an incentive package in hopes of landing the new Boeing 7E7 ``Dreamliner'' plant, but the company announced late last year that it would build the plant in Washington.

Carson said he would ``persuade, cajole, arm-twist or do whatever it takes to keep jobs here, to bring jobs here.''

Coburn said Carson's comments were an indictment of the state's congressional delegation, of which Carson is the lone Democrat.

``I didn't really think that Sen. (Jim) Inhofe and Sen. (Don) Nickles had done that bad a job,'' Coburn said.

He said it would not be proper for a congressman to threaten a company over an a move that was in the company's economic interest.

Carson and Coburn are in a close race for the Senate post Nickles, a Republican, is giving up after 24 years.

Coburn said he was proud of his record of voting for tax cuts and less government regulation of business.

As a small businessman, he said, ``I understand that capital has to flow for business to happen and that means lower taxes and less interference from government.''

Carson said Oklahoma needs a senator who will fight for the state's fair share of federal funds and will work across party lines as did David Boren, the last Democrat to represent the state in the Senate.

Coburn said he was known as a maverick and ``a heck-raiser'' in Congress, but was always bipartisan and had passed 19 bills as a congressman from the 2nd District.

Carson said the first job of a senator is to bring ``honor to the state'' and the second is to fight for the state's interests.

He also brought up some controversial comments Coburn has made on the campaign trail, including statements about ``rampant lesbianism'' in southeast Oklahoma schools and ``crapheads in Oklahoma City'' who have stymied economic growth.

Such comments, Carson said, ``reaffirm every stereotype that the people on the East Coast already have of us.''

Coburn did not reply to Carson's charges. He said he did what he thought was right during three terms in Congress and that included challenging the Republican leadership for not keeping their commitments.

``I don't apologize for challenging the establishment in Washington,'' he said.