Rep. Cole talks Speaker race, GOP party and 'being Republican'
To say the House Republicans is a ship without a rudder is an exaggeration. But it certainly is looking for that rudder.
The search for a Speaker of the House is an ongoing political exercise as Republicans look for a candidate that can unify its conservative elements with the remainder of the party. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma) feels the candidate is Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) who was a vice presidential candidate in the 2012 election.
“I hope Paul Ryan runs, will support him,” Cole said. “I can support anyone who has hunting dogs named Boomer and Sooner.”
Ryan, whose wife is from Oklahoma, has not announced he would seek the post as Speaker John Boehner continues to serve until a successor can be named. Cole did say a number of House members have floated their names but none have gained traction with the resident of Moore.
“Most are not plausible,” he said.
As the leadership debate rages on while the House is in recess, it appears to be a microcosm of the issues the Republican Party as a whole. The rise in Tea Party values has split the party from its mainstream members.
“It’s really funny in that the differences are not about the issues,” Cole said.
He said both groups agree on issues such as repealing Obamacare and defunding Planned Parenthood. The issues is in tactics as Cole is against shutting down the government to reach those aims, noting nothing good has come from it previous times and it hurts Americans.
“It’s the wrong thing to do,” he said. “We have a divided government and intense polarization.”
Despite having a majority in the House and the Senate, the issue for Republicans is once legislation passes the House, it is subject to a filibuster in the Senate or a veto from the White House. Despite the difficulties, Cole said the frustration has extended to Obama, who has struggled to get his agenda off the ground since 2010. In the meantime, Cole noted the deficit has dropped from $1.4 trillion to $430 billion. He pointed out all Bush tax cuts were extended with many becoming permanent and there has been entitlement reform in Medicare.
Cole said compromises would be key to moving forward as the government is currently configured in that there needed to be something for the President in order to push legislation through. But the Republicans in place are doing what they can.
“A lot of people have systematically and deliberately said the problem is the Republicans in office,” he said. “None voted for Obamacare and none voted for tax increases. It’s tough to undo what the President was able to do in 2009 and 2010.”
Cole continues to watch the primary races shape up and acknowledged the most successful candidate to this point is Donald Trump while also noting the campaign of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
“It’s still pretty fluid and we will start to see candidates begin to exit because of funding like Gov. Walker and Gov. Perry,” he said.
The success of the non-political career candidates to date is a result of anger and a desire for change Cole said, adding the only times Americans have elected candidates without political experience were military candidates such as Eisenhower, Grant and Taylor. But the winner will have to reach beyond the party to earn the nomination he said.
“If you are a Republican, it’s not enough to be a Republican,” he said.
Domestically, Cole said the lifting of the ban on oil exports would hopefully provide some relief. The House will have a number of important decisions looming once it joins back in session beyond identifying a new speaker. That speaker will need to lead on issues such as sequester and budget cuts, the transportation fund and military reauthorization.
“It will be a very eventful October, November and December,” he said.