United States Rep. Tom Cole said he thinks Republicans have a good chance of taking the presidency in the 2012 election.

“I think there are several (Republican candidates) who can develop into the kind of candidate that can win,” Cole said.

Cole held a town hall meeting in Ada Wednesday where he discussed several issues going on in Washington D.C.

He said he thinks Republicans have an opportunity because President Barack Obama hasn’t established himself as a strong leader.

“At the end of the day, this is more of a referendum on (Obama) than it is anything else,” Cole said.  

“Anytime you’ve got a situation where 70 percent of the country feels like it’s moving in the wrong direction, if that number holds — and 57 percent are giving him a disapproval in the manner in which he’s handling the economy — the only way he can win is to literally disqualify the Republican.”

He said if Republicans can nominate a candidate who doesn’t make the issue about him or herself, he believes a Republican can take the White House.

He said he doesn’t believe that candidate will be Sarah Palin or Donald Trump, however.

“Sarah Palin is more valuable on the outside than she is as a candidate,” he said.  “There’s also a Gallup poll out that says 65 percent of the American people don’t consider (Trump) acceptable to be president.”

Cole said Republican candidates need to avoid issues that make them look silly.

“The birther issue, to me, was always one of those issues.  I think we finally got it put to bed this morning,” he said.  “You want to talk about serious things.  The American people are hurting right now.  They’re looking for really strong leadership.  I don’t think they believe they’re getting it.”

He said Obama hasn’t had a defining moment in his presidency and that passage of the healthcare bill wasn’t it because a majority of the country remains against it.

“So far, Obama has maneuvered and positioned but hasn’t led,” he said.

Cole said he also believes Republicans will retain the House of Representatives and have a chance of taking the Senate.

Other issues discussed include energy independence.  Cole said he thinks energy independence should include the acceleration of compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles, conversion of coal and natural gas into liquid energy and opening up oil production to bring down gas prices.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that there’s enough energy in America to be energy independent,” he said.

Cole said he believes Obama overstepped his bounds by creating a no-fly zone in Libya.  He said he isn’t certain the United States should have intervened but he is certain Obama should have consulted Congress before engaging in an act of war.

“When Secretary (Hillary) Clinton said, ‘If we don’t intervene there’s going to be a civilian massacre in Benghazi,’ that’s true.  I don’t have any doubt (Muammar Gaddafi) would kill thousands of people.  He’s a very cruel guy,” he said.

He said Libya hasn’t directly attacked the US, however.

“Do we really want a third war?” he said.  “(Obama) not going to Congress was an enormous mistake.  The way I read the Constitution, war-making power resides in the Congress of the United States.”

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