The Washington Times - May 6, 2009, 08:57AM

Tom Coburn has long been known as an unlikely ally and friend of President Obama’s, going back to their days as colleagues in the Senate.

Coburn, a doctor and hardline conservative from Oklahoma, and Obama, the liberal lawmaker from Illinois, have worked together on reforming wasteful spending and on ethics laws. 

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A Coburn spokesman in 2006 said that the senator found Obama to be “someone who has a good heart and principled and not mindlessly partisan.”

Coburn, according to the White House, asked to meet with the president, and so on Wednesday the two men will have a meeting, scheduled to last 30 minutes long, in the Oval Office.

Despite their good working relationship, Coburn has not been shy in criticizing some of Obama’s policies as president. He lambasted the $787 stimulus bill as “one of the most egregious acts of generational theft in our nation’s history.”

He said last month that Obama’s health-care plan, if it includes an option to use a government-run system, will inevitably lead to rationing of care.

It’s a packed day for the president, too. After a series of morning briefings and meetings, Obama meets with Coburn, then has lunch with two top senators on the health-care issue, and then goes into a series of high-stakes meetings with the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

— Jon Ward, White House reporter, The Washington Times

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