Those who insist that the Republican Party must choose a path that embraces either Ronald Reagan or Donald Trump are incorrect, because both former presidents have common roots in the GOP, Sen. Tom Cotton is expected to declare in a high-profile speech on Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported.
"Reagan understood what all Republicans should: We are elected to protect the American people and their prosperity and their freedom," the Arkansas senator said in an interview ahead of his speech. "Both President Reagan and President Trump, who many people say represent these polar opposites between which we must choose, stood in that tradition."
Cotton is among a small group of relatively young, ambitious GOP senators — along with Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida and Josh Hawley of Missouri — thought to be preparing a path for possible presidential bids in 2024, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Cotton's speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California is part of a series on the GOP's future after its loss of the White House, Senate, and House during Trump's time in office.
In describing the similarities between the two presidents, The Wall Street Journal pointed out that Reagan and Trump both got into politics after careers in entertainment, were Democrats before becoming Republicans, and captured the GOP nomination after battling opposition from part of the party establishment.
"Republicans are the party of the common man," Cotton insisted. "We stand for law and order, military strength, good jobs, high wages, and sanity in our culture wars."
Cotton, who is hawkish on defense and foreign policy issues, will criticize President Joe Biden for Russia's invasion of Ukraine, insisting that Russian President Vladimir Putin "wagered that if the American president wouldn't stand up to a depraved gang of seventh-century savages in Afghanistan, there was no way he would stand up to Russia. After all, Joe Biden had signaled weakness, conciliation, and appeasement to Putin from the very beginning."
Cotton said he would back a bipartisan attempt in Congress to ban Russian oil imports, saying "we should have done this years ago. "They don't provide that much of our oil, but they provide enough that we're still providing them tens of millions of dollars since this war began to fund their government, and therefore their war machine."
Cotton is also expected in his speech to talk about other issues, such as combating crime, proposing a parent-centered reform of the educational system, ending coronavirus mandates, and his skepticism of free trade.
"Free trade isn't free unless it flows both ways," he is expected to say in the speech. "China isn't engaged in free trade, not even close, and therefore it's not entitled to preferential market access."
When asked about his ambitions for the presidency, Cotton said that "when I turn my attention down the road towards elections, it will indeed first be to 2022. Once that election is over, we can move on to the next election."
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