Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the Republican Party does not have a single leader when asked if former President Donald Trump should remain as leader of the GOP.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And now we move on to Republican Senator from Arkansas, Tom Cotton, who was a regular on the 2022 campaign to boost GOP candidates. He’s come out with a new book called “Only the Strong,” and he’s joining us this morning from McLean, Virginia. Good morning to you, senator. And on this Veterans Day weekend, I want to thank you for your past military service.
COTTON: Well, thank you, Margaret. That’s nice of you, and thank you to all of our veterans for their service in all of our country’s wars.
BRENNAN: Let me come to the story of the moment. Democrats have faced historic headwinds. Eight in 10 Americans said they felt it was out of control. The Republicans had issues like the economy and crime that really worked in their favor. President Biden has a low approval rating. How did the Republicans end up with this total disappointment?
COTTON: Well, Margaret, I wouldn’t say it was a total disappointment. On the one hand, we had strong Republican leaders who had positive records of achievement who were winning very big victories. If you look at governors, like Ron DeSantis in Florida, Brian Kemp in Georgia, Mike DeWine in Ohio, Kim Reynolds in Iowa, Greg Abbott in Texas, we’ve had senators with the same victories, like Marco Rubio in Florida and Tim Scott in South Carolina, Ron Johnson in Wisconsin. But on the other hand, of course, we hoped that we would have won more seats. I think the lessons from our wins can be applied to some places where we fell a little short. We need to focus on accomplishments and serious substantive issues like crime, like our wide-open border, like fighting runaway inflation. Even in places where we’ve been a bit short, like Lee Zeldin’s run for governor in New York, he’s fared very well against Republicans in recent elections, and he’s probably helped save the House of Representatives by bringing four newly elected Republicans to Congress. at the finish line in New York. I think we have lessons in places where we’ve had victories that we can apply to places where we’ve been disappointed.
BRENNAN: Sure, but you lost the game in the Senate. Karl Rove blamed the quality of the candidates and specifically put the blame on former President Trump. He said: “Mr. Trump has turned what should have been a referendum on Mr. Biden’s terrible record into a choice between him and the current president. As in 2020, many voters chose Mr. Biden. Should Mr. Trump remain the leader of the Republican Party?
COTTON: Well, Margaret, when the party… when a party is out of power, like the Republicans are now, we don’t have a single leader. The former president is obviously very popular with many of our constituents–
BRENNAN: He’s the center of gravity.
COTTON: But we also have other important leaders, like some of those winners that I just mentioned earlier, like Brian Kemp in Georgia, Ron DeSantis in Florida. Last year, Glen Younkin scored a big victory in a blue-tinged Democratic state like Virginia. I hope to remain a leader in the United States Senate as well, in addition to people like some of those I just mentioned who have been re-elected, like Tim Scott. So when you’re in opposition, you don’t have one leader. That won’t be until we’ve completed the 24-24 nomination season, and we have–we have a new nominee.
BRENNAN: You said you’re not going to run for president in 2024. The former president says he intends to announce he’s running on Tuesday. Should he be the automatic candidate, or should he face a primary?
COTTON: Well, Margaret, since I chose not to be a candidate in 2024, I… I don’t plan to be an expert or a strategist…
BRENNAN: Well, you just threw out a whole bunch of names of guys who might run for president, senator. Do you approve of them?
COTTON: And I know almost all of them personally. And I respect their accomplishments, not just their big wins on Tuesday or last year in Glenn’s case, but also their accomplishments in power. But you know, I know everyone wants to focus on 2024 already. I just want to remind everyone that we’re still in the middle of the 2022 midterm because we’re in overtime in Georgia. And the most important thing we can do is elect Herschel Walker to make sure we can keep the pressure on the Democrats in the Senate so they don’t veer too far left, as they have over the past last two years. This is where I think everyone should stay focused for the next three weeks.
BRENNAN: Should the Senate leadership election be postponed until December and should Mitch McConnell remain as Republican leader in the Senate?
COTTON: Well, I don’t see why we would delay the election, since five or six of our leadership elections are uncontested. You know, the great wrestling champion Ric Flair used to say, to be the man, you have to beat the man. And so far, no one has had the courage to come forward and challenge Senator McConnell. So I support Senator McConnell. I support the other slate of candidates for our leadership elections. I think it’s best that we move forward with these elections, so that we can focus on Georgia’s runoff again.