Republican Senate candidate Tom Cotton has a new TV ad playing — again — his military service card and hitting Democratic opponent Mark Pryor for an awkward remark about Cotton’s service. Cotton produces his drill sergeant to vouch for him.
The Cotton release:
U.S. Senate candidate Tom Cotton is releasing a new 30-second television ad this morning. The new spot, titled “At Ease,” features Cotton engaged in a dialogue with his former drill sergeant George Norton.
Speaking to the camera, Cotton references criticism he has received from Senator Pryor, who said Cotton felt “a sense of entitlement” because of his military service. Pryor has not retracted or apologized for his remarks. Pryor’s “entitlement” remarks drew a swift rebuke from several media outlets including The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and the hosts of Morning Joe on MSNBC, where the comments were originally aired.
Cotton’s former drill sergeant George Norton said: “From the first day of boot camp, I knew Tom Cotton was a hard worker who demonstrates the values of integrity and selfless leadership that we teach in the Army. No one who’s ever met Tom would get the idea that he felt ‘entitled’ to anything. Tom always put the unit ahead of himself, and he was an excellent soldier. I’m confident he’ll be an excellent U.S. Senator as well.”
Cotton said: “I didn’t learn a ‘sense of entitlement’ growing up on my family’s cattle farm in Yell County, where I was taught that most things in life come through hard work and determination. And I certainly didn’t learn a ‘sense of entitlement’ in the Army, where I was taught the values of duty, honor, teamwork, and leadership. Those are the values I plan to take to the U.S. Senate if the voters of Arkansas choose me to be their next Senator.”
In a TV interview, after first praising Cotton’s military service, what Pryor actually said was this: ”I think that’s part of that sense of entitlement that he gives off is that, almost like, ‘I served my country, let me into the Senate.’” He didn’t actually say Cotton felt a sense of entitlement. It’s also true that much of Cotton’s campaign has been about his military service as if it should be more important than, say, his extremist, Club for Growth-driven view of government policy. But no doubt Pryor would say it differently if given another chance.
As with Cotton ads featuring his mother, the other featured player, his former drill sergeant, comes off more “at ease,” as the commercial is entitled. But a touch of humor is useful, particularly for a candidate with so many seriously damaging votes in his record.