05/20/2014 04:07 pm ET Updated May 20, 2014

GOP Rep. Tom Cole: 'I Want To Personally Thank The President Of The United States'

Exactly one year after a devastating tornado ripped through Moore, Oklahoma, killing 24 people, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) publicly thanked President Barack Obama for his leadership in the aftermath of the disaster.

“I want to personally thank the president of the United States," Cole told a crowd at the construction site of Moore Medical Center. "He was here on the ground six days after the disaster. He committed, I know, to the governor and to me the night of the disaster, we will be with you every step of the way, and the president of the United States has kept that commitment."

Cole recounted that when Obama toured the affected area, "there were a lot of people out, they were taking pictures, some of them waving little American flags -– they were waving at the president. And the president was pretty startled by all this."

"He said, 'Tom, I’m pretty surprised to see all these people out here, you know this was a disaster situation and yet here they are, a lot of them, to you know, say hi and welcome me and it’s -– I’m pretty amazed.' And I said, 'Mr. President don’t be amazed –- it’s a place where you’ve never gotten a lot of votes, but you’ve always had a lot of friends,'” Cole joked.

"You think about that," Cole said. "He came to a state where he didn’t carry a county in either of his two elections and he was on ground, because that’s what Americans do."

Other speakers at the event included Gov. Mary Fallin (R) and Moore Mayor Glenn Lewis.

Cole, whose district includes Moore, also commended former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, FEMA Commissioner Craig Fugate, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan for their work in helping to rebuild the city of Moore.

Cole is not afraid of showing his bipartisan side, and has previously bucked the GOP on issues ranging from taxes to last year's government shutdown.



Moore Oklahoma Tornado Victims