Fed up with "politics as usual," a group of distinguished politicians laid out a criteria Monday to resurrect national bipartisanship. Speaking before a packed house on the campus of the University of Oklahoma, group co-chairman and OU President David Boren said the time is now to bring a change in politics.
"We come together to resurrect that kind of bipartisan statesmanship that united us as Americans to win the Cold War," Boren said. "We come together to appeal to all presidential candidates to tell us how they plan to bring us together."
The group calling for a new bipartisan spirit was comprised of Republicans, Democrats and Independents. The panel included New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has been rumored will make an independent run for president of the United States. He has publicly claimed he has no plans for such a run, and told the audience today he supports the group's efforts.
"Members of the panel are optimistic candidates will listen to our message," Bloomberg said.
Panel members laid out four benchmarks they would like to see the current presidential candidates address in the campaign:
" how they would establish a government of national unity;
" specific strategies for reaching bipartisan consensus;
" plans to appoint a bipartisan cabinet regardless of political affiliation; and
" proposals for bipartisan executive and legislative policy groups in critical areas.
Panel member Sen. Bob Graham of Florida said not only does he want to see candidates adopt these benchmarks, but to explain how they will achieve it.
"What are you going to take out of your toolbox to work on your solutions?" Graham asked.
After the public forum, several panel members spoke individually with the press about their objectives.
Boren said at this point, he does not favor a third-party insurgency.
"I would hope the two-party system will work," Boren said. "I believe in the two-party system. I hope the candidates of the two parties rise to the occasion."
And if the candidates do not display the bipartisan approach the panel wants?
"My first choice is let's succeed with the two parties," he said. "But if we don't, I think the problems are so serious in America that we should not rule out what I would call a time out from the two parties. I would hate to see a three-party system, but I would not rule out taking a time out."
Boren also dispelled any rumors he is considering running for either president or vice president.
"I made a life decision to come to the University of Oklahoma a long time ago, and that life decision is not going to change until I go to my final resting place," he said. -Scott Cooper