Tom Cotton on Meet the Press: Sure of everything except maybe Donald Trump | Arkansas Blog

Tom Cotton on Meet the Press: Sure of everything except maybe Donald Trump

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Sen. Tom Cotton
appeared on NBC's Meet the Press with Chuck Todd today. He was as hawkish and anti-Hillary and generally as sure of himself as ever, but showed a bit of moderation on one hot-button military issue and also stopped short of a full-throated endorsement of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The interview, taped earlier, struck me as interesting on these two points:

* His reluctance to praise Donald Trump. Todd noted Cotton's  interventionist, militaristic bent and characterized Cotton as more aligned with Hillary Clinton in some ways. Cotton bridled at that, naturally, and listed all the things wrong with Clinton. But Todd followed up:

Todd: I understand the case against Hillary Clinton. What's the case for Donald Trump?

Cotton: Donald Trump can ultimately make the case for himself. But Donald Trump, like most Americans, like most Republicans, believe in protecting America's core national interests. He believes as do I, as do most Americans, that we aren't yet doing enough to take the fight to the Islamic State. That the intervention in Libya was ill-considered and slapdash at the time. And we're living with the consequences of it now. That we have to get tougher when it comes to our intelligence and law enforcement practices to stop Islamic terrorism. On those matters, our party is largely united. And I say that we have the vast majority of Americans with us.

Todd: You don't come across as an enthusiastic Trump supporter. Is that fair?

Cotton: Maybe I don't just demonstrate enthusiasm much in life, Chuck, especially in such dangerous times as this.

Todd: No, I understand that. But it does seem as if you— I mean, he is not running on a foreign policy that is anywhere close to what you would like to see. How do you square that into your support for him?

Cotton: Well, Chuck, I'm a senator. And as a senator, I play an important role in crafting foreign policy. And it's important to remember that whatever the presidential candidates of either party say, they will have to interact with the United States Congress, particularly the Senate, when it comes to crafting policy. .... 

* His low-key response on the Pentagon's decision to open military service to declared transgender people.

He first dodged the question, by saying he respected the service of all Americans. Todd pressed:

Todd: And you have no issue with the secretary's decision?

Cotton: The secretary's has made his decision. The service chiefs and the combatant commanders, as they always do when the civilian command and its authority will execute that. And our troops will follow it.

Todd: Right, but would you have done it? Would you have lifted the ban?

Cotton: I might have not considered doing it in a time of war. But it's done now. The Secretary of Defense has given the directive. And our service chiefs and the commanders and the troops will follow that.
Given recent Arkansas experience on this issue (see Texarkana vote to dump a non-discrimination ordinance largely on fears about transgender people), you have to score this as a welcome and rare bit of moderation from the senator.

You can read the full interview here.


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