Former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating

Former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating

Born Francis Anthony Keating (1944-02-10) February 10, 1944 (age 68) St. Louis, Missouri
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Cathy Keating
Profession Lawyer, Lobbyist
Religion Roman Catholicism

Frank who?

Many, non-Southerners may know or remember Frank Keating, but you should because he’s worth remembering because he is truly one of the most  successful conservative leaders and genuinely nice guys politics has ever known.  As such, those of who do remember Frank Keating are stirred by feelings of respect and confidence, when we think about him.  Which is why when considering people as prospective vice presidential nominees, Frank Keating should be considered by Mitt Romney.

Keating, a former two term Governor of Oklahoma began his career in law enforcement and his good work in that area eventually led President Ronald Reagan to appoint Keating to be the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma, where he served with distinction from 1981 to 1984.  In 1984 he ran for Congress in Oklahoma’s 1st congressional district and lost but came close to defeating House Budget Committee chairman Jim Jones

Following that loss, President Reagan appointed Keating to serve as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and later as United States Associate Attorney General, where he became the third ranking official in the Department of Justice.  In these positions, Keating managed both the Justice and Treasury departments’ law enforcement agencies, as well as the U.S. Customs Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the United States Marshals service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and all 94 United States Attorneys.

Following the election of George H.W. Bush  in 1988, Keating continued on in the Justice Department but in 1990 was elevated by the first President Bush to serve as General Counsel and Acting Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Secretary Jack Kemp. He began his work there in 1990 but on November 14th of 1991, Bush  nominated Keating to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.  Keating stayed on as Acting Deputry Director at H.U.D as he waited for his nomination to be taken up the Senate, but with Democrats in control, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and their partisanship caused them to sit on the nomination and never bring it for a hearing and vote.  This allowed incoming Democrat President Bill Clinton to nominate a fellow partisan Democrat instead.   The Democrat controlled Senate did act on that nominee in a timely fashion.  Keating finally left his post with H.U.D. in 1993, after the Clinton Admimistration replaced him in that job too.

Keating then headed back to Oklahoma where after a years in the private sector, he decided to run for Governor of  Oklahoma and in November of 1994 he defeated his Democrat opponent by 17 percentage points.

Within just three months of taking office, on April 19, Governor Keating became a man in charge of what at the time, was the greatest single act of terrorism in the United States.  It became infamously known as the Oklahoma City Bombing and ground zero was the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.  One explosion ignited within the confines of a large U-Haul truck that was parked in front of the building killed 168 Oklahomans and injured 800.   The blast tore down the Alfred P. Murrah Building and destroyed or damaged more than 300 buildings in the surrounding area, leaving several hundred people homeless and shutting down business.

Governor Keating orchestrated an unimaginable mobilization of relief and rescue teams to handle the tragic event.  His leadership help coordinate the efforts of over 12,000 people in the days following bombing and his masterful handling of it all earned him worldwide attention for his efforts to help the victims and their families.

Aside from the testing of Governor Keating under fire through the tragedy of Oklahoma City, Keating undertook an aggressive political agenda that included environmental protection, road building, tougher law enforcement, economic development,education reform, public safety, tax relief.  he even initiated the creation of an innovative public-private partnership that assured care for the indigent as well as a stronger medical education program.  Passage of these initiatives was not east and despite several bitter battles with the Democrat controlled state legislature, most of Keating’s initiatives were passed.

His first major success was passage of the first welfare reform law in the nation in 1995. By y 2001, those  reforms had reduced Oklahoma’s welfare rolls by over 70%., but it’s early success was so great that success made Keating’s reforms a national model that was mimicked by the historic welfare reform act of 1996.

From there, Keating moved on to other memorably successful efforts.  As a  law and order politician, Keating used his career in law enforcement to serve Oklahomans. He implemented tough parole policies and introduced the landmark truth-in-sentencing legislation. Keating also showed little amnesty when handling death sentence criminals, allowing many of those sentenced to death to be executed. Keating also raised the salaries of Oklahoma’s state troopers from the lowest in the nation to the 24th highest.

But the greatest success of  Keating’s first term came in 1998 when he become the first Governor of Oklahoma in 50 years to successfully maneuver the passage of a cut in the state’s income tax.   Something that was made all the more remarkable given the fact that he had already successfully reduced the states unemployment tax, sales tax, and estate tax.  The sum total of these policies and cuts created over 130,000 new jobs in Oklahoma  Oklahoma and amounted to the largest tax break in the state’s history.

In his second term Keating set four goals for Oklahoma for his second term:

  1. Ensure one out of every three Oklahomans has a college degree by 2010
  2. Decreasing Oklahoma’s divorce rate by 50% before 2010,
  3. Raising Oklahoma’s Americas College Testing scores to the national average by 2005
  4. Raising Oklahoma’s per capita income to reach the national average by 2025

This focus led to an agenda that  focussed on education by introducing charter schools in to the system and by increasing spending on the enhancement of vo-tech and higher education facilities.  It also led Keating confront the problems involving substance abuse , child abuse, and out of wedlock births.

Other extraordinary achievements of Keating included

  • A criminal justice bill that reformed Truth in Sentencing (TIS) to Oklahoma and ensure that violent and repeat offenders remained  in jail
  • Overseeing the largest road construction project in Oklahoma history.
  •  Leading his state through the historic and devastating tornado season of  1999
  • Raising more than $20 million in private money to replenish a state fund that went dry during WWI and was meant to complete the  Oklahoma State Capitol with a dome.

Since leaving office, Keating has enjoyed much success in the private sector sector where he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Council of Life Insurers.  In 2002 he wrote a children’s book about famous Oklahoman Will Rogers and in 2006 he authored another children’s book.  This one was about Theodore Roosevelt.  Then in 2008 came Standing Bear, his third book for children.

On January 1, 2011, Keating became president and CEO of the American Bankers Association.

During his post gubernatorial days, Keating flirted with the thought of running for President.  However in 2008, he decided that compared to the earlier starts by the McCain and Romney campaigns, it was too late for him step in to the race.

Between his experience, personality and accomplishments, Governor Keating is probably more qualified to be President of the United States than any one who is or who were running for President in 2012.  From a conservative standpoint, Keating is brilliant.  From a non-partisan standpoint, Keating is a level-headed doer who looks beyond the obvious problems that needs fixing and dives full on in to a mission to fix them, but also has the vision to make sure that they won’t need to be fixed again in  the future.

Governor Keating is a charming, inteligent, experienced, knowledgeable, accomplished leader who avoids partisan political bickering and reminds his colleagues that voters do not care about politics, they care about policies, policies that work.  The type of Keating policies that increase, jobs, grows the economy, limits government, and is willing to accept the fact that government is not the answer to everything, but that government can help to unite the private sector in a way that allows them to do a better job than government ever could have.

Keating also has something that only a handful of other potential VP nominees have.  Signature achievements that bring a level of undeniably proven credibility.  The type of credibility that has also withstood the test of time.  Frank Keating has truly walked the walk not just talked the talk.  He has a proven record that if given the attention it deserves, could impress more than a few voters and make them say “we need someone like him to do for our nation, what he did for his state”.

It is simply a shame that Frank Keating didn’t become a candidate for President in 2012.

His record as Governor is one which not only demonstrates how good he was, it shows us a man who was ahead of the times.  While many states are only now struggling with right-to-work laws, Frank Keating addressed them before they could become institutionalized problems in his state.  While many states are finally trying to deal with the often tragic results of a lack of truth in sentencing, Frank Keating long ago solved that for the people of his state.

Be it matters of infrastructure, education, taxes, jobs, or the economy, Frank Keating has created road maps that have taken people in the direction before and there is no reason to believe why he can’t again.  And he has even been successful at changing the dynamics of late which have people believing that all things must rely upon government.  As Governor, Frank Keating was able to demonstrate the benefits of having government rely on the private sector and in so doing, proved that the private sector can do better than government.   Between that and his having more hands on experience in the areas of  public safety and law enforcement and what you have is a man who few are looking at now, but many could be wanting once they are reminded of who he is.

Pros:

  • Incredible experience in law enforcement
  • Has a record of governor that is full of reform, innovation, fiscal success, and managerial expertise, all of which touch upon important issues in this election.
  • Respected among the conservative base that Romney needs to excite and get behind him with enthusiasm

Cons:

  • Does not bring any needed extraordinary geographical pluses to the ticket
  • His post-gubernbatorial work in the private sector as a lobbyist for bankers and insurers will be turned in to something evil by the left
  • At 68, some may try to subtley use his age against him
  • His representation of Banks as the ABA President will be used to try paint a Romneky/Keating ticket as an out of touch, rich Republican team of banking and Wall Street special interests as a part of the ongoing liberal class warefare startegy

General Assessment:

Keating is everything that conservatives want and more.  Not only has been there and done that when it comes to every issue that we are discussing today, he has taken those issues by the horn and in his state, solved the problems surrounding those issues.  As a candidate, Keating would be a strong, articulate candidate who people could relate to and with whom they could connect.  He also comes from a school of politics that when compared to today’s politics, is much more mature and non-partisan.    And although many people might not exactly recognize the name, once his story is told, people will automatically respect him for both who he is and what he accomplished.  However I do not think Mitt Romney wants to have to tell Keating’s story.  Doing so would drive some unwanted contrasts between Romney’s record and Keating’s record that Mitt may not want to have to address.  And finally, I think Mitt may want to try to bring a relatively fresher face to the stage.

But I could easily be,  and in many ways hope I am wrong, because if anyone would make a good Vice President, it would be someone who would make an excellent President, and Frank Keating would make an excellent President. In the end, as much as glad as I would like to see Keating tapped for the nomination, I think he is a longshot for the job because of the lack of geographical electoral benefit he brings to the ticket and because of the propoganda rich image the left would be given because of Keatings representation of insurance interests and as the President of the American Banking Association, banking interests.

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Frank Keating On The Issues

International Issues Domestic Issues Economic Issues Social Issues
Foreign Policy Gun Control Budget & Economy Education
Homeland Security Crime Government Reform Health Care
War & Peace Drugs Tax Reform Abortion
Free Trade Civil Rights Social Security Families & Children
Immigration Jobs Welfare & Poverty Corporations
Energy & Oil Environment Technology Principles & Values

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Other White House 2012 pages dedicated to potential vice presidential candidates include links to the websites, and Facebook pages of the candidate it focusses on.  Keating’s lack of political inolvement since 2002 has left Keating without a need or desire for such pages so there were none to link to.  Inlieu of such pages, we have instead provided several video interviews of the Governor.

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Recent Interviews of Frank Governors

Frank Keating, the former Oklahoma Governor who was named chief executive officer of the American Bankers Association, talks about his work on the Bipartisan Policy Center’s proposal for changes to the U.S. budget.

ABA CEO Frank Keating speaks at the ABA’s 2011 Convention about the Dodd-Frank Act and the importance of banks in building strong communities.

Former Governor Frank Keating talks about anger in America 15 years after the Oklahoma City Bombing with CNN’s John King.

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