Coburn says Oklahoma's military bases safe

Wednesday, October 13th 2004, 6:13 am
By: News On 6

ALTUS, Okla. (AP) _ Oklahoma's military bases are in good shape for the next round of base closures, Republican Tom Coburn said Tuesday as he campaigned across the state.

Coburn, a former congressman seeking a U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Don Nickles after 24 years said Oklahoma's presence in the military could grow.

In Lawton, home to Fort Sill Army Post, Coburn said, ``I do believe there's a good chance to expand the missions at Fort Sill and McAlester.''

Coburn visited Oklahoma's military towns on Tuesday with Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa.

Coburn told Enid residents that Oklahoma's military bases, including Vance Air Force Base, are in good standing for the upcoming base-closure round.

He said the most important requirements for bases are unlimited air space and good weather conditions, and Vance has both.

Having a Republican president and Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives and Senate would allow the party to appoint more members of the base realignment and closure commission, he said, and the party has a good record of supporting bases.

Residents asked Coburn to respond to his opponent Democrat Brad Carson's challenge of Coburn's military voting record.

``I'm proud of my record _ not only military support ... but also my work on veterans,'' he said.

Coburn and Carson are in a tight race for the senate seat and have wage aggressive campaigns against each other.

Coburn spent a good deal of time bashing Carson. Calling himself a ``plain ol' conservative,'' Coburn said there were two Carsons _ one ``who votes all this liberal way'' and the other who was running for the Senate.

``I don't blame Brad Carson for running away from his liberal voting record,'' Coburn said, but added, ``It's manipulative, it's deceptive and it's devious.''

Coburn, a Muskogee doctor, flew with Inhofe, to McAlester, home of an Army ammunition depot, Lawton, Enid and Altus.

In Lawton, Coburn told a luncheon hosted by defense contractor TELOS-OK that Carson was supporting Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and he was supporting President Bush.

``The biggest contrast is who we want to see as president of the United States,'' Coburn said.

In regard to the possibility that Kerry would be commander in chief, Coburn said, ``I can't think of anything worse for my grandchildren or the future of this country.''

Coburn was asked in Lawton about reinstating the military draft, and he said he supported it only as a last resort. The people in the all-volunteer Army, he said, had proven to be the best-trained soldiers in history and were people who wanted the jobs.

``I don't think we're ever going to see the draft,'' he said.