by Max Brantley
"Media sweetheart" is how this piece in Politico puts it and they should know, having been pumping U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Club for Growth) since forever.
Somebody — gee, I wonder who? — leaked to Politico that Cotton had schooled Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on national security at a recent closed-door meeting of wingnuts.
Politico credits Cotton, without asterisk, for his fact-challenged critique of the Bush and Obama counterterrorism efforts. And touts the talk of him as the best challenger for U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor.
All of which has helped burnish Cotton’s aura as a GOP up-and-comer. Cotton says he hasn’t yet decided on a Senate bid, though Republicans close to him believe he is more likely than not to run. Leading Republicans are cheering him on with both short- and long-term political motives in mind.
Arizona Sen. John McCain and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, the Senate’s leading GOP hawks, have both reached out to Cotton to urge him into the 2014 Senate race, sources said — as have a dozen-plus other members of the chamber. (McCain spokesman Brian Rogers declined to comment on the recruitment efforts but wrote in an email: “Senator McCain has the highest regard for Tom Cotton.”)
The Weekly Standard, the flagship publication for national security conservatives, has obsessively promoted Cotton’s speeches and campaign activities. Cotton has been close with the Standard’s editor, Bill Kristol, since striking up a friendship over email while deployed in uniform, and introduced himself to the Washington community while stationed across the river in Fort Myer. Both the Standard and National Review ran long profiles of then-candidate Cotton in late October of 2012; NR’s Jay Nordlinger later conducted a lengthy public interview of Cotton at a January conference hosted by the magazine.
Is the House version of Lindsey Graham what Arkansas voters have ordered? Or might they show some reluctance to endorse a charisma-challenged hard-line small government adherent so heartless he'd deny disaster aid to storm victims?
Some think Lt. Gov. Mark Darr's karaoke act, whatever it lacks in intellectual heft, would make him a far more appealing candidate and thus a more dangerous challenger to Pryor. That may be why Darr continues to play coy about 2014 (and make a campaign-style stop in Mississippi County recently.) But I should have added originally that the most prevalent rumor about Darr is that he'll run for 4th District Congress if Cotton runs for Senate. He need not move into the district to make the race, but probably would, say teabagger heaven, Garland County.