Carson and Coburn engaged each other head-on in one of the year's most brutal Senate contests. Coburn and the National Republican Senatorial Committee attacked Carson for being too liberal for Oklahoma and for being a vote in lockstep with John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and Ted Kennedy. To drive the point home, one television advertisement aired by the Coburn campaign accused Carson of being "dangerously liberal" and not supporting the War on Terrorism. Coburn was aided in this effort by the fact that the Kerry campaign did not contest the state of Oklahoma and that incumbent President George W. Bush was expected to win Oklahoma comfortably. This was compounded by the fact that Vice-PresidentDick Cheney campaigned for Coburn and appeared in several television advertisements for him. Carson countered by emphasizing his Stilwell roots and his moderation, specifically, bringing attention to the fact that he fought for greater governmental oversight of nursing home care for the elderly. Carson responded to the attacks against him by countering that his opponent had committed Medicaid fraud years prior, in an event that reportedly left a woman sterilized without her consent. Ultimately, however, Carson was not able to overcome Oklahoma's conservative nature and Senator Kerry's abysmal performance in Oklahoma, and he was defeated by Coburn by 11.5%. As of 2014, the result remains the closest the Democrats have come to winning a Senate election in Oklahoma since Republican Don Nickles was first elected to the Senate by 8.7% in 1980.
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