A new star is rising quickly in the senatorial firmament, attacking the Iranian leadership and the Obama administration with equal fervor and becoming a very familiar presence on news pages and talk shows.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., has only been in the Senate for a couple of months, but already, his name is being bandied about as a presidential possibility someday down the road.
With his March 9 letter to the Iranian leadership, signed by 46 other Republican senators and warning Iran that any nuclear treaty negotiated by President Barack Obama could end as soon as Obama leaves office in 2017, Cotton triggered a firestorm of both protest and praise, The Washington Post reports
The New York Daily News ran Cotton's photo on its front page under the headline, "Traitor," along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a heavy word to use against a former infantry officer
with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and a holder of the Bronze Star.
Cotton's letter, which he says he wrote himself, was attacked by Vice President Joe Biden, who said it "threatens to undermined the ability of any future American president, whether Democrat or Republican, to negotiate with other nations," the Post noted, and caused Obama to blast Cotton and the letter's Republican signers for "wanting to make common cause with the hardliners in Iran," the Daily Signal reported
Cotton, at 37 the youngest senator, lambasted Obama's attempts to cut a deal with Iran over its nuclear capability, saying, "I would rather see this negotiation end because I think the administration is committed to a deal at all costs. Or is committed to letting Iran achieve in slow motion what they could otherwise not achieve through a deal," Politico reports
However, the letter, which states: "The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time," set him in direct opposition to Obama and drew the nation's attention
to the freshman senator.
It's not the first time he has crossed words with Obama, who has pledged to shut down the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In a Senate hearing, Cotton said: "The only problem with Guantanamo Bay is there are too many empty beds in cells there right now. We should be sending more terrorists there for further interrogation to keep this country safe. As far as I'm concerned, every last one of them can rot in hell. But as long as they don't do that, they can rot in Guantanamo Bay," Politico reported.
His GOP colleagues are lauding him. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told Politico: "By virtue of his military service, he's got a lot of credibility on these issues. And I'm glad to see him step up," and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said: "A lot of us have those thoughts, and words. He says 'em."
While Cotton has been criticized for taking such strong positions this early in his Senate career, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., told Politico: "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."
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