Coburn blasts Gingrich, found his leadership ‘lacking’ as House Speaker

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said Sunday that he cannot support GOP presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich because the former House speaker lacks leadership skills.

“I am not inclined to be a supporter of Newt Gingrich’s having served under him for four years and experienced his leadership. Because I found it lacking often times,” Coburn said on Fox News Sunday. The Oklahoma senator served in the House of Representatives from 1995 to 2001.

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“There’s all kind of leaders, leaders that instill confidence and leaders that are somewhat abrupt, leaders that have one standard for the people that they are leading and a different standard for themselves,” he said. “I will have difficulty supporting him for president of the United States.” 

Coburn in March said that he was looking for a president that would unite the country and raised questions about Gingrich’s confrontational style.

With less than a month before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, Gingrich is drawing 25 percent support from likely Republican caucus-goers, a new Des Moines Register poll found. That is an 18 percentage point jump since the October issue of the same poll.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has only 16 percent support.

Coburn, a solid conservative, also has a reputation as a maverick. He supported the budget recommendations of President Obama's fiscal commision, which recommended new tax revenue, and he has sparred with anti-tax activist Grover Norquist this year. Coburn is known to have a warm personal relationship with President Obama.

This story was updated at 10:01 a.m.

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