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Lankford remains cool, collected at "Java With James" event in Norman

Nick Oxford / Red Dirt Report
U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R-OKC) at a "Java With James" event at Midway Deli in Norman.
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Red Dirt Report contributing writer and political observer, Ted H. Smith, shares his thoughts on Friday’s “Java With James” event at Midway Deli in Norman

NORMAN, Okla. – Upon arriving at Midway Deli at 9:20 a.m. today, 30 people were already gathered by the entrance, excitedly waiting for the 10 a.m. townhall-styled event with U.S. Sen. James Lankford, who has been meeting with constituents as part of his “Java With James” and “Community Conversation” events.

Outside, three officers with the Norman Police Department were on hand to insure everyone proceeded in an orderly fashion as they entered the small eatery which has become a popular place for great food and conversation in this community, as encouraged by owner Bob Thompson.

Already inside the deli were Midway Deli were approximately 20 people, along with Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma City.

Those already inside were likely a select group of donors who had a chance to talk to the senator prior to the official event kicking off. But then I really don’t know for sure.

Thompson, the owner, already had his food truck set up outside the brick-and-mortar building and was passing out free coffee and doughnuts to everyone. And with a chilly rain falling, these breakfast treats were appreciated by one and all.

Norman is one of the more liberal-leaning cities Sen. Lankford is visiting this month. (Nick Oxford / Red Dirt Report)

Before long me and others were handed a very small piece of paper with a number on it. Then I was given a card where I was able to write a question, which would then be placed in a red bucket for Sen. Lankford to then pick and read when the time came.

And so at 10 o’clock, everyone outside was let inside, which was nice, because the rain was really starting to come down at that point.

Once everyone was inside – approximately 60 in all – Thompson introduced Lankford who then welcomed everyone to his community gathering and told them that he would pull cards out of the bucket and answer the question.

An attendee films the "Java With James" event with a smartphone. (Nick Oxford / Red Dirt Report)

He added that people please be polite and not interrupt the person speaking. As it turned out, approximately 80 percent of those attending this “Java With James” event opposed the Trump administration, with many of the questions asked of Lankford aimed at him explaining how the government was going to solve all kinds of problems. We should note that Lankford made headlines earlier this week, saying, in response to a question from a constituent, that Trump should release his tax returns, as he had promised during the campaign.

Regarding the issue of immigration, Lankford handled it well, saying several senators have written to President Trump seeking clarification on certain classifications of immigration.

Sen. Lankford engages with constituents at the Norman "Java With James" event. (Nick Oxford / Red Dirt Report)

A professor from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha asked Lankford about what could be done about the continuing increase in higher education tuition.

Lankford simply responded by saying that college funding is a state problem.

On the issue of alternative energy sources, and how the government was promoting it, the senator was very exact in his answers and showed that he is very knowledgeable about different scientific developments being made regarding alternative energy sources.

There were many people at the event who oppose both Lankford and Trump who held signs expressing those views. (Nick Oxford / Red Dirt Report)

Red Dirt Report asked Lankford about what was being done to address the overlapping and duplication of services in federal agencies.

Responding that the “Taxpayers Right To Know Act” is expected to become law this session, the act will require each federal agency to report on each and every activity within that particular agency, including information related to the objective of the program, who it will serve, and what it will cost while also measuring its effectiveness.

Reproductive rights was also a concern among a multitude of those at this event. Lankford simply responded to questions on this topic by providing information on all of the birth control options available at both the state and federal levels.

Countries like India and China have far more of an impact on carbon emissions than the U.S., Lankford said, when addressing a question on climate change and whether it was caused by human activity or by natural methods.

All in all, Senator Lankford handled himself very well, and was very respectful of everyone who was there.

After his stop in Norman, Lankford and his team went to Mustang for a similar "Java With James" event at the Boomarang Diner.

That would be his final community event scheduled this month.

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About the Author

Ted H. Smith

Ted H. Smith is a 1966 graduate of Texas A&M University. He received his Master Degree in...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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