It’s been a brutal inaugural year in the Senate for Tom Cotton in the win-loss column: Within months of being sworn in, the next-generation leader of GOP hawks lost major showdowns over the Iran nuclear deal and government surveillance, two of his top causes.
“I don’t think it’s a hard year for me,” Cotton (R-Ark.) said. “I think it’s a hard year for the American people and their national security.”
But Cotton now seems to be having a moment of redemption.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and California, the national security pendulum is swinging sharply back in his direction. The GOP presidential primary field is talking increasingly tough on foreign policy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to revisit the surveillance powers that Congress did away with over Cotton’s vocal opposition.
And Marco Rubio has seized the tough-on-defense lane that Cotton helped open earlier this year, hoping to ride criticisms of libertarian-leaning Republicans all the way to the White House.
Indeed, it’s a good time to be a hawk in the Republican Party. And Cotton, a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars with a pair of degrees from Harvard, is the go-to messenger — whether it’s thrashing the president’s plans to close Guantánamo Bay or devising the next national security push on the Senate floor.
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