The Washington Times - March 28, 2011, 10:42AM

Freshman Rep. James Lankford on Monday said President Obama needs to do a better job of defining the mission in Libya in his highly-anticipated Monday-evening address on the conflict.

Mr. Lankford, Oklahoma Republican, said on The Washington Times-affiliated “America’s Morning News” that “clarity of the mission is what I’m looking for — what presidents typically do before the war.”

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The 43-year-old Mr. Lankford questioned the White House’s decision to intervene militarily in the strife-torn North African nation.

“We cannot engage in each and every civil war all around the world,” he said. And the president, he said, should have done a better job making the case for the intervention with Congress and the American public before the mission started.

“Obviously, the U.N. and NATO were much more informed than the American people or the Unites States Congress,” he said.

Still, Mr. Lankford, who was an executive with a Baptist ministry before winning the 5th Congressional District seat in Oklahoma last year, said the economy and the deficit remain the top concerns of his constituents.

“Everybody here wants to talk about how we can pull back the debt,” he said. “That is the big issue.”

He was cautiously optimistic about the ongoing budget negotiations in Washington. “We are making progress; it’s just very very slow. We are gaining ground.”