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President Obama and Tom Coburn at the 2011 State of the Union speech. / Evan Vucci, AP

President Obama is praising sometimes opponent and long-time friend Tom Coburn, the Oklahoma Republican who has announced he will leave the Senate at the end of the year as he fights cancer.

"The people of Oklahoma have been well-served by this 'country doctor from Muskogee' over the past nine years, and I'm confident that Tom's strength and optimism will carry him through the battles to come," Obama said in a statement Friday.

Obama and Coburn formed their odd couple friendship after they both won election to the Senate in 2004.

"Those of us who have had the privilege of serving with Tom Coburn will be sad to lose him as a colleague here in Washington.

"Tom and I entered the Senate at the same time, becoming friends after our wives struck up a conversation at an orientation dinner.

"And even though we haven't always agreed politically, we've found ways to work together -- to make government more transparent, cut down on earmarks, and fight to reduce wasteful spending and make our tax system fairer.

"The people of Oklahoma have been well-served by this 'country doctor from Muskogee' over the past nine years, and I'm confident that Tom's strength and optimism will carry him through the battles to come.

"Michelle and I will always be grateful to Tom and Carolyn for their friendship, and we wish them all the best in all the years ahead."



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Obama praises GOP friend Coburn

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