Retiring Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, said he is glad Barack Obama was elected president during an interview with "60 Minutes" that will air Sunday.
The 66-year-old Coburn served in the House from 1995-2001 before becoming a senator in 2005. He is retiring at the end of this year after discovering he had a recurrence of prostate cancer.
"I am proud of our country for electing Barack Obama … it says something about us … America's special: Barack Obama, president of the United States," Coburn told Lesley Stahl in the interview, which will air during Sunday night's show that starts at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Coburn and Obama became friends — despite being from opposite political parties — after meeting at the Senate's freshman orientation when they took office in 2005. Coburn said the friendship is "based on the fact that I think he genuinely is a very smart, nice guy. I think he’s a neat man.
"You don't have to be the same to be friends. The interesting friendships are the ones that are divergent."
Coburn, an obstetrician who has delivered more than 4,000 babies, was known for holding up bills in Congress and adopted the nickname "Dr. No" for doing so. His tactic was to place holds on bills that he felt would increase the budget, which often forced his colleagues to meet with him to get their legislation through.
Coburn said he held up "thousands" of bills. "They would pass if you didn’t put the holds on them … And you'd grow the government and our problems would be worse, not better."
Coburn gave his final speech on the Senate floor
last week and became emotional while delivering the remarks.
His farewell speech touched on his fight to stop pork barrel spending.
"Every member of the Senate takes the same oath. And here's where I differ with a lot of my colleagues," Coburn said. "Your state isn't mentioned one time in that oath. Your whole goal is to protect the United States of America, its Constitution and its liberties. It's not to provide benefits for your state."
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