Concerned about a possibly hostile crowd, State Republican Chairman David McLain warned the audience not to boo or shout before U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe took the stage at the state GOP convention on Saturday.
Inhofe’s speech defending his vote to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election drew a mixed reaction from the crowd of several hundred people at the Oklahoma City Convention Center, many of whom still dispute the election of President Joe Biden.
“The constitution … demands that the states pass the presidential ballot,” Inhofe said in an address that included slides of the U.S. Constitution and the specific requirements he said mandated that he vote to certify Biden’s win.
Charles DeFuria, a Republican delegate from Luther, stood up and began shouting as Inhofe spoke before officials removed him from the room.
“I didn’t want to hear blah, blah, blah,” DeFuria told The Frontier. “What I wanted from Inhofe and from (Sen. James) Lankford was on Jan. 6 to stand up and say we need to figure out what really happened during the election.”
No evidence of widespread election fraud has been found but former president Donald Trump has continued to claim he was cheated.
Some gave Inhofe a standing ovation after his address but the response was fairly subdued with many people shaking their heads in disagreement.
After his speech, Inhofe said in an interview that his explanation might not have been what the crowd wanted to hear but he felt it was important to explain himself.
“I didn’t get the response I really wanted, I don’t think people understand, it’s a difficult message,” Inhofe told The Frontier. “It is a little bit in the weeds but something I really don’t have a choice.”
U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin followed Inhofe’s speech with a plea for Republicans to avoid in-party fighting. Mullin and Oklahoma’s other four members of the House of Representatives voted in January against certifying the election results.
“We can’t fight so much among each other that we lose sight of the target that is in front of us, which is the progressive, socialist Democrats that are coming after us,” Mullin said.
Mullin specifically defended Inhofe, saying he showed courage in addressing the crowd.
“That’s a leader,” Mullin said.
James McDowell, a Republican delegate from Duncan, said he agreed with Inhofe’s view that the electoral college is important but he had mixed feelings about his vote on Jan. 6.
“I’m very uneasy about what he did (on Jan. 6), that’s the best way I can put it,” McDowell said. “Sometimes I feel he was right, sometimes I feel he was wrong. I personally believe there were a lot of shenanigans (with the election).”
While Inhofe had originally said he would vote in favor of certifying Biden’s win, Lankford had planned to object and was in the process of making his case on Jan. 6 when a pro-Trump mob entered the U.S. Capitol in an effort to stop the certification.
Hours later, Lankford changed his mind and voted to certify the electoral college results, which Biden had won 306 to 232.
Lankford gave a prayer at the start of Saturday’s convention and then left the convention hall. He received a largely supportive response from the crowd.
Lankford has already drawn at least one primary challenger to his 2022 reelection campaign but Inhofe also used his speech to endorse the junior senator.
“Not only is he the real thing, he is brilliant,” Inhofe said about Lankford. “He has been the number one advocate for conservatives and every moral issue that is out there.”