MR. RUSSERT: Dr. Coburn, let me bring you back to 2000, the Republican primary for president of the United States. And you chose Alan Keyes over George W. Bush, and this is what you said: "It is clear to me that Alan Keyes is the one candidate for president who actually understands what is wrong with our country and who has the vision, the courage, and the clarity of principle to put it right. Ambassador Keyes has shown repeatedly that he has a better grasp on the issues--the foreign policy, the fiscal policy, the social policy and all the rest of it--than any other candidate. ... My heart and my conscience tell me Alan Keyes is the man who should be president." Why did you think that Alan Keyes would make a better commander in chief than George W. Bush? DR. COBURN: Well, I thought his ability to speak with clarity of purpose was good and his ability to communicate was good. You know, I supported President Bush after that primary, which we all pick winners and losers in primaries, and then I supported President Bush, and I would to this day. And he is my commander in chief. The big difference between Brad and myself is he believes John Kerry should be the new commander in chief, and all the things that he just alliterated would be undermined if, in fact, John Kerry is the commander in chief. We'd have a global policy that has a global test on our foreign policy before we do anything....Russert further probed Coburn similarities with Keyes by asking about abortion, which led to a disturbing conversation about the death penalty and doctors who perform abortions:
MR. RUSSERT: I just want to follow up on Alan Keyes one last time and then I want to ask Mr. Carson about George Bush. "In May of this year"--this is what Alan Keyes said--"now you think it's a coincidence that on September 11th, 2001, we were struck by terrorists--an evil that has at its heart the disregard of innocent human life? We who have for several decades killed not thousands but scores of millions of our own children, in disregard of the principle of innocent human life--I don't think that's a coincidence, I think that's a warning. ... I think that's a shot across the bow. I think that's a way of Providence telling us, `I love you all; I'd like to give you a chance. Wake up! Would you please wake up?'" Do you agree with Ambassador Keyes that September 11 was a warning by the creator about America and its policy on abortion? DR. COBURN: No, not at all. MR. RUSSERT: You did say that abortionists should be killed, the death penalty. DR. COBURN: Well, I was asked that question. They were asking me about my pro-life stance, Tim, and as a doctor that's delivered 3,500 babies, cared for every complication of pregnancy you can imagine and have seen the procreation and creation at its very earliest stages, you know, I believe when we take innocent life intentionally, except to save lives, that we are violating moral law. Now, I understand what the law is. My hope would be that we would get back to a time when we recognize the value of life, and I think we're not. MR. RUSSERT: You would outlaw all abortion. DR. COBURN: Except to save the life of the mother. I would think that every created life has value. REP. CARSON: But you... MR. RUSSERT: If a doctor performed an abortion in violation of that law, he should be subject to the death... DR. COBURN: Well, I think whatever we decide should be the subject as a country, if in fact it's violating the law. I know it's not violating the law today. But it grieves my heart every time that we terminate. MR. RUSSERT: But if you had your way, Doctor, and this is important, you would have a law banning all abortions, and if a doctor violated that law, he or she should be put to death. DR. COBURN: He or she should be put to the penalties that we think, as a society--today, in many states, we don't have the death penalty. In other states, we do. Whatever that is, but I believe that we have to stick on the side of life. I think... MR. RUSSERT: But you think the death penalty would be an appropriate penalty in that situation. DR. COBURN: If somebody intentionally takes life at any stage throughout the country, except to save a life, and that's innocent life, I think we have to use the law that's on the books to respond to that. I sure do.