U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton encouraged Boys State delegates to serve in the military and, like he did, to go from that experience to serving in elective office as adults.
Cotton, R-Ark., spoke Monday (May 30) to delegates at the University of Central Arkansas Monday a few hours after speaking to Girls State delegates at Harding University in Searcy. The two weeklong summer camps train leading Arkansas high school seniors in government and politics. Boys State is sponsored by the American Legion. Girls State is sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary. Monday was the first day of the events.
As a delegate in 1994, Cotton was elected to Boys Nation. Cotton’s father, Len, is chairman of the Boys State commission. Cotton’s mother, Avis, and sister, Sarah, were Girls State delegates.
Cotton encouraged the Boys State delegates to run for office, pointing to the electoral successes and near successes of President Bill Clinton and Gov. Mike Huckabee.
“In virtually no other land, even a lot of democracies around the world, can two men with their very humble background aspire to those offices,” he said. “For that matter, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama from their backgrounds couldn’t aspire to those offices, either. But you can. Every one of you.”
Cotton served as a platoon leader for the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne in 2006 and then served as an operations officer for a reconstruction team in Afghanistan. He told the delegates they would not regret military service and said the country does not need a military draft.
Asked by a delegate – on Memorial Day – about those experiences, he said, “Like most people in most wars, it was about 23 hours and 55 minutes of sheer boredom and five minutes of sheer terror and chaos.” He said that, in Iraq, “We were there at a time when we weren’t winning the war and therefore we were losing the war.”
He said his time in Baghdad was more dangerous because he spent more time on patrol dodging bombs and sniper fire.
“To put it simply but not inaccurately, my job was to go out and find, fix and finish the bad guys. In Afghanistan, my job was to go out and help the good guys,” he said.
Another delegate asked Cotton why the Senate is not holding hearings on Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. Cotton said waiting until after the election would better reflect the American people’s thinking.
“If we had a hearing, it would be a show hearing,” he said. “Merrick Garland would not be confirmed. I have more respect for him and more respect for the process. … There will be a chance after this year’s election to fill that seat on the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court’s functioning just fine, but it’s a rare thing that the American people get to weigh in as they will this November.”
Prior to his speech, Cotton said in a brief interview that he will support Donald Trump, his party’s nominee for president.
“I’ve said all along that I’ll support the Republican nominee,” he said. “I don’t think our country can afford another four years of Barack Obama’s failed policies either at home or abroad, and Hillary Clinton was the architect of those policies abroad. Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee now, and it’s his responsibility but also an opportunity to try to unify not just the Republican Party but bring new voters into the general election as he has done in the primary.”
Asked if he could run as Trump’s vice presidential running mate, Cotton said, “I have no reason to believe that he would ask me or that I’m under consideration. I would offer whatever help I can if I can provide other advice or other counsel – not just to Donald Trump but to any Republican seeking office or in office. I think most Americans feel that way as well. If their country calls them to serve, they want to serve.”