The state of Arkansas once again has a major player in the U.S. political landscape. Freshman Senator Tom Cotton made international headlines with his letter to Iran and seems to be embracing his role as a polarizing newcomer in the U.S. Senate.And while he’s been criticized heavily for his letter to Iranian leaders undermining the current administration, there are some in Arkansas would love to see Cotton make a run at the White House.
“We’re proud of him, we’re proud of what he’s doing,” said Arkansas Republican Party Chairman Doyle Webb. “Just look at the number of colleagues that signed the letter that he sent, that doesn’t come if you’re not a well-thought-of, well-respected, rising star of the party. Arkansans can relate to him, we’re proud of people that have solid roots, that do well and then who represent us, who speak who we are in Washington and around the world, so we’re very proud of him.”
But not everyone is impressed with Cotton’s meteoric rise. Arkansas Democratic Party Chairman Vincent Insalaco sees Cotton’s letter to Iran as a stunt to embarrass President Barack Obama and build momentum for his own presidential bid.
“I was flabbergasted,” said Insalaco. “It clearly was written to undermine this president and help him try to be a vice presidential contender. He was in the House for two years and he’s been in the Senate for 60-some days, I mean really??”
Meanwhile, state senator Bart Hester of Cave Springs has a bill in front of lawmakers that would allow Cotton, and other Arkansas candidates, to run for two offices simultaneously. In effect, opening the door for Cotton to run for president or vice president in the next few years.
“We just feel like we’ve got a really great candidate right now,” said Hester. “We hear all the time that Tom Cotton’s a man in a hurry, and I’m glad he’s in a hurry. We’ve got some real problems in the United States of America and Tom Cotton’s a serious man that can deal with them. People identify with Tom Cotton, when he says something that the national media hates he’s speaking for all of us here in Arkansas, he’s actually verbalizing what we’re thinking. It makes us proud of him, it makes us want to stand behind him stronger and glad he’s from the state of Arkansas.”
Dr. Greg Shufeldt, a political science professor at UALR, agrees that Cotton is a rising star in the GOP but he’s not sure it will translate to success in a national campaign.
“Tom Cotton is definitely an ambitious politician, he has moved very quickly up the ranks from law school to the House of Representatives now to the U.S. Senate, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he has his sights set on a higher office, specifically the Presidency,” said Shufeldt. “If you speak really loudly on one issue you might be able to make a national name for yourself, but you’ll have a hard time reaching a broad enough appeal to necessarily be taken as a presidential candidate.”
Shufeldt went on to liken Cotton to Ted Cruz of Texas, who has been as outspoken on domestic issues as Cotton has been on foreign policy and has yet to see great success in a national election.