With the rise of ISIS and videos of beheadings making front page news, Democrats who thought the hawkish credentials of Republicans like Tom Cotton in Arkansas would be a liability are now finding themselves on the short-end of any national security Big Stick.
The shifting politics of foreign policy has scrambled the calculations for both parties ahead of the November elections. It has put some Senate candidates, unaccustomed to talking about national security issues, in an uncomfortable position, while elevating others with military experience and foreign policy bona fides.
Candidates’ past votes, comments, and even their biographies are emerging as huge opportunities in key Senate races–and glaring vulnerabilities in others. And in Arkansas, where Democrats hoped to exploit war-weariness among the public against hawkish GOP Senate nominee Tom Cotton, the Islamic State terrorism has suddenly changed the mood in the state and given the military veteran a clear political advantage.
Add to that that Cotton isn’t the only GOP candidate with military credentials this time out – an area where Democrats are viewed as decidedly weak – and the appeasement and surrender foreign policy of the Democrat Party may finally be coming home to roost.
Cotton, a former infantryman in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, is one of four Republican candidates with a military background running in a Senate battleground this year, joining Dan Sullivan in Alaska, Scott Brown in New Hampshire, and Joni Ernst in Iowa. Republicans haven’t drawn notice to their military-laden class of recruits, and until lately it hadn’t mattered much in the campaigns. But the emergence of foreign policy has thrust their background to the forefront and, in some cases, helped bolster their arguments.