Tom Cotton has not even reached the 100-day mark in his first Senate term, but as the author of a controversial letter signed by 46 other Republicans to Iran's leaders concerning a potential nuclear weapons agreement with the Obama administration, the Arkansan has already made an impact.
"Tom Cotton is ahead of the mainstream of Republicans on foreign policy thinking. Most of those running in 2016 will sound a lot more like Cotton than Rand Paul," The Weekly Standard's editor Bill Kristol tells The New York Times.
The letter has pushed Cotton into the headlines and into the line of fire of Democrats and the Obama administration.
"I think it's somewhat ironic to see some members for Congress wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran. It's an unusual coalition," said President Barack Obama on Monday, reports CNN.
Even Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif slammed the letter in a statement to CNN, in which he described it as "a propaganda ploy" that "has no legal value."
Cotton, 37, arrived in the Senate with the distinction as being the youngest member of the current class, but his authority on foreign policy comes from his military background, not his age.
A Harvard University graduate who was elected to the House of Representatives in 2012, Cotton served tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan and his expertise in military affairs contributed to his success in unseating Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor, according to The Wall Street Journal.
His party’s leaders see him as an emerging voice on national security; one indication was their decision to place him immediately on the Armed Services and Intelligence Committees. Within weeks of his victory in November, he was delivering the weekly Republican radio address — a Thanksgiving address that included a tribute to troops serving around the world.
"To suggest, like some have, that Tom Cotton hasn’t been here long enough to comment on foreign policy? That’s a pretty bold statement to make about somebody who’s gone, been shot at, defended his buddies and, more importantly, defended the country," Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr told Politico.
He serves with Burr and also holds a spot on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Cotton, however, is one of several lawmakers to make an almost immediate impact in their freshman year in the Senate.
The controversy which has come with Cotton's emergence as a voice on foreign policy is reminiscent of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who in short order rose to prominence as one of the leaders in GOP's conservative faction.
"This is a freshman senator who is emerging about as fast as Barack Obama did when he was a freshman senator. I think Cruz will be a very formidable player," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said of Cruz during a 2013 interview on WMAL radio.
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Cruz also received criticism from members of both parties in 2013 for adopting an all-or-nothing strategy in an attempt to repeal Obamacare that led to a government shutdown.
"Who says Republicans and Democrats can't agree on anything? These days, they are largely united in their loathing for Ted Cruz, the pugnacious Republican freshman senator from Texas," wrote The Atlantic's Molly Ball.
While not meriting the same measure of criticism, Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren put her imprint on the Senate last year when she attempted to block a bill to fund the government because she believed it contained provisions that would weaken the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, NBC News reported.
Often mentioned as a potential challenger to Democratic primary front-runner Hillary Clinton, Warren's populist message and ability to energize a crowd has made her a forceful spokeswoman for the liberal wing in the Senate.
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