HH: I’m joined now by Congressman Tom Cotton, who represents Arkansas’ 4th Congressional District. He is also running for the United States Senate. His website is www.tomcotton.com. Congressman, always a pleasure, thanks for joining us on short notice.
TC: Good evening, Hugh, glad to be on with you as always.
HH: Now I want to rehearse something I know the details of, but I’ve just added Salt Lake City as a market on 1430, 103FM, and a few new audiences in Illinois and West Bend, Wisconsin, and East Central Illinois, and Odessa, Texas, and Lexington, Virginia, lots of new audiences. So they may not know this. Can you describe for my audience your military service, with whom you served, and when you served and where you served?
TC: Sure, Hugh, glad to. I was actually in law school the day the 9/11 attacks happened, which changed my path in life. I didn’t want to practice law so much, wanted to go fight. So I decided to graduate, pay off my loans for a couple of years, but then I left my law practice and enlisted in the Army not as a JAG attorney, as was suggested to me by the recruiter, but rather as an infantry officer, and became an Army Ranger. I served in Iraq in 2006 with the 101st Airborne, where I was a platoon leader for 41 soldiers, and Afghanistan in 2008 and 2009 as an operations officer. And in between those two tours, I served at Arlington National Cemetery, where I had the honor, the solemn honor, of laying to rest our fallen comrades, or greeting their remains at Dover Air Force Base when they were repatriated to the United States.
HH: And so as a Ranger and in Iraq, and in Afghanistan, were you ever attacked by suicide bombers?
TC: My patrols personally were not, Hugh, thankfully for my men and for me, but obviously many of our comrades in arms in neighboring areas of operations in Baghdad in 2006, neighboring provinces in Afghanistan in 2008 and ’09 were. We did, however, see numerous suicide bombers in 2006 in Iraq against civilians, and had to respond to those. So it’s something with which we are all too familiar as soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan.
HH: So I want to play for you President Obama’s right hand, Dan Pfeiffer, his strategic consultant for strategic communications. He’s a White House employee. This is Dan Pfeiffer talking to Jake Tapper on The Lead a couple hours ago about the Republicans in Congress.
DP: The Republicans, we are for cutting spending. We’re for reforming our tax code. We’re for reforming our entitlements. What we’re not for is negotiating with people who have a bomb strapped to their chest.
HH: So Tom Cotton, what do you think of being compared to someone with a bomb strapped to their chest?
TC: Well, Hugh, I did not even know who Dan Pfeiffer was when y’all first contacted me about coming on tonight, so I had to do a little research about his background. I know that he has spent the last 12 years of this war bravely patrolling the mean streets of Capitol Hill and the White House grounds, so I’m sure he has full knowledge of what he speaks about when he compares Republicans in Congress to suicide bombers. But I would suggest that he might want to think about the many families whose lives have been destroyed by suicide bombers, be they American soldiers or American citizens, or allies in places like Israel before he engages in such coarse and base dialogue about what is really nothing more than a democratic debate on a live issue, Obamacare, that only 39% of the American people support. To compare that to a despicable tactic like suicide bombing, I think, is really beyond the bounds of civilized discourse in our country.
HH: A suicide bomb went off today in Iraq, killed many innocent civilians. A suicide bomb went off in Pakistan in a historic Christian church over the weekend, killed more than 100 people. Of course, there may have been bombs set off in the Nairobi mall. Certainly, they were suicide attackers involved in that. Some of them may have gotten away. And you just mentioned Israel, which was on the receiving end of a long, long line of suicide bombers. So what is going on in Washington that the President’s designated spokesman, it’s like when they sent out Susan Rice in the aftermath of Benghazi, she had talking points. Dan Pfeiffer does not arrive on CNN, Jake Tapper’s show, I don’t believe, having just decided to freelance his rhetoric, do you, Tom Cotton?
TC: No, Hugh, I don’t think he does. He’s obviously been with the President for a long time, and speaks for the President. I think you’re seeing just another facet of the slow-motion meltdown not only of Obamacare, but of this president and his allies’ defense of Obamacare when they resort to such tactics of calling their democratically-elected opponents who are opposed to their policies, because they think those policies have dramatically negative consequences on our constituents, and on all Americans, call us something like suicide bombers, or for that matter, a hostage taker, or an anarchist, or a terrorist, or an arsonist, or many of the other things that Barack Obama and his allies like Harry Reid have been calling us for the past few days, when we’re simply trying to defend the American people against an awful law.
HH: In a very traditional back and forth. I mean, this is not the shootout at the O.K. Corral. This is not a terrorist against a soldier, although you mentioned you received a lot of the remains of a lot of Americans who died in those wars, and you fought in those wars, and you know what this means. But I don’t think they really have any sense of gravity with regards to this. Now my question is, have any of your colleagues on the Hill said anything about this, yet? Or is it just not widely known, the level to which they’ve stooped?
TC: I think this is a new low to which they’ve stooped, Hugh, referring to some of their opponents in a legislative debate as suicide bombers. It was bad enough when they were calling us terrorists or anarchists or arsonists. Right now, most of my colleagues, I don’t think, know, because as you say, it just happened a few hours ago. And we just finished up legislative business for the day, and I was actually at dinner with a few colleagues, and shared the remarks that Mr. Pfeiffer made with them. I think they were all, it’s fair to say, astonished, and you know, wouldn’t be very restrained if someone put a microphone in front of them right now.
HH: Now has your, will anyone, do you think, go to your opponent in the Senate race, Senator Pryor, and ask him to comment on this, because it seems to me that he, Mr. Pfeiffer, is speaking on behalf of the President and on behalf of Harry Reid, and on behalf of Democrats, and that either you’re with him or you’re against him on this level of rhetoric. I’d like to know if your Senate opponent is with him or against him on this.
TC: I would like to know as well. Mark Pryor supports Barack Obama over 90% of the time on Senate votes, and as you say, Barack Obama is the leader of the Democratic Party, so it would be good to know on this, as on so many other issues, if he stands with the President. Today, for instance, we just asked if Mark Pryor stood with Joe Manchin, a Democratic Senator, who has said that he would support a delay of the individual mandate of Obamacare. But as usual, it’s hard to get Mark Pryor to get on the record to take a firm position on anything.
HH: Do you think the people of Arkansas are going to support Dan Pfeiffer, and by extension, Mark Pryor, labeling you and your colleagues in the House as chest-strapped bombers, or bombs with chest, I can’t even remember what the language was, it was nasty. Do you think they’ll support that?
TC: Well, Hugh, I imagine they won’t support that kind of rhetoric. They certainly don’t support Barack Obama and his dreadful policies, given the impact it’s had in Arkansas. But even if one is a loyal Democrat, I think one can still say that calling your opponents in a democratic debate a suicide bomber, or for that matter, a terrorist or an anarchist or an arsonist, is really beyond the bounds of civilized discourse. We can have honest disagreements about policies and its effects. But to liken them to despicable terrorists who murder Americans, whether they be in uniform or civilians, I really don’t think has any place in this kind of debate.
HH: Congressman Tom Cotton, thanks for breaking away from dinner to join. I wanted to find someone who could speak appropriately to this, and you were the guy. www.tomcotton.com, America, www.tomcotton.com
End of interview.