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Cotton Futures Capital Gain

Binyamin Rose

Just seven years ago, Tom Cotton was fighting for his life in Iraq. And last week, the freshman Republican Congressman from Arkansas announced his candidacy for US Senate, with some pundits predicting Cotton might even find himself on the national ticket in 2016. In this exclusive interview on the eve of his maiden trip to Israel, Rep. Cotton explains why America is still at war, why he voted against the aid package for Hurricane Sandy, and what’s stopping the Mideast peace process from moving forward.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tom Cotton built his character — and certainly his biceps — as a boy, lofting bales of hay far bigger than himself from his daddy’s pickup truck on the family cattle ranch. Now a lanky war veteran and freshman congressman, Cotton faces a different type of heavy lifting in the aisles of Congress. 

The nation’s capital is a world apart from Sunny Side farm off State Highway 28 in ruralYell County,Arkansas, where Cotton grew up, yet he couldn’t think of a better training ground to learn the value of taking responsibility for things larger than himself.

“In the depths of winter, when it was 20 degrees and hailing, snowing, or sleeting, you still had to go out and care for those cows, whether putting out hay, or getting them out of frozen ponds, or caring for a newborn calve,” said Cotton. “You learned a sense of duty and sacrifice and selfless service, which is important in all walks of life.”

Rep. Cotton spoke with Mishpacha from his office in theCannonHouseOfficeBuilding, just two weeks before his maiden trip toIsrael as part of a congressional delegation sponsored by the AIPAC-affiliated American Israel Education Foundation.

By coming toIsrael, he will forgo some of his summertime workload on the family ranch, but it will be a working visit nonetheless for Cotton, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East andNorth Africa.

A battle-seasoned veteran ofIraqandAfghanistan, Cotton said he was looking forward to his colleagues’ reaction when they “physically see the straits thatIsraelfaces, and what it means to defend a country like that from much larger and more populated neighbors.”


The Future is Now If Cotton, at six feet five inches, comes across as strong in person, he is just as self-assured and articulate on the phone, never hesitating more than a fraction of a second, even when his voting record or positions are challenged. 

He has also shown none of the natural reluctance of a freshman legislator to stand tall in front of his own party’s leadership.

Robert Costa of National Review noted that during a recent meeting among House Republicans on the immigration bill working its way through Congress, Cotton was not afraid to advise Speaker John Boehner, the House’s top-ranking Republican, to “tread carefully” before compromising with the Democrats, saying the two sides were galaxies apart in their positions.

Fellow Rep. Steve King ofIowacommended Cotton for having done his homework on the bill, but also for his guts. “He’s also resilient, and not easily discouraged by people who disagree. Usually, you don’t see freshmen get too far out front, but he’s emerging, sooner rather than later, as a leader in this Congress.”

Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post described Cotton as “popular among both conservative groups who prize ideology and establishment Republicans who worry about electability.”

If Rep. Cotton’s tenure in the House is short, it won’t be due to the sophomore jinx or because voters in his 4th Congressional District turned him out of office, but rather because he stands a strong chance of graduating to the Senate in November 2014. Cotton announced last week that he will challenge Democrat Mark Pryor in next year’s elections.

And that might not be Cotton’s only pivot in the current political cycle. The day we interviewed him, Politico’s Alexander Burns speculated on a Chris Christie–Tom Cotton ticket in 2016.

“That is news to me,” chuckled Cotton. “I would not expect to be on anyone’s ticket in 2016.”


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