Speaking of what he sees as President Obama’s foreign policy failures, he said, “In international politics, weakness is provocative.”
“And right now,” he continued, “I’m afraid under Barack Obama, America is projecting weakness to people like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran or Vladimir Putin in Russia, or China and its aggressive moves.”
As for Iraq and Afghanistan, Cotton thinks President Obama should have fought to keep a residual force to maintain the hard fought gains in the former and failed to give his generals the full compliment of troops they asked for in the latter.
“In Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said, “the president is risking the snatching of defeat from the jaws of victory.”
“I believe in those wars that’s why I went to fight in them,” he added. “I think the world is safer and America is safer when America is leading in the world.”
Asked who he would like to model his congressional career after, Cotton rattled off a list of senators.
He says he admires Republicans Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Marco Rubio of Florida, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah.
They are “strong conservatives who defend America abroad and stand up for the free enterprise system here at home,” he said.
He also named Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan and Georgia Rep. Tom Graves as House members he likes.
In a blog post, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, a major Cotton proponent, compared his nascent political biography to Bill Clinton’s, with the exception that Kristol’s preferred Arkansas native volunteered to serve his country.
Cotton laughed at the comparison.
“Well, you know, Bill Clinton was certainly a skillful politician and had great electoral success, but we don’t see eye-to-eye much on policy views,” he said.
Asked about Kristol’s prediction that he may be a future presidential contender — perhaps in 2024 or 2028 — Cotton said he just wants to work on getting elected to Congress.
“I’ve got less than 8 weeks left until early voting begins in Arkansas so we’re just focused on trying to get absentee ballots out the door,” he said. “I’ll let future plans work themselves out. Everyone seems to have big plans for my life; they just don’t always tell me.”
But if he does get elected to the people’s chamber, he says his top priorities are to work to fix America’s debt problem by reforming and strengthening Medicare, to push for fundamental tax reform and to fight to keep America safe — specifically by working to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
“I’m going to Congress to try to do big things and have a big impact,” he said. “You know, I don’t want to do small things that evaporate as soon as I leave Congress and have a legacy as lasting as Cotton candy at a county fair.”