Arkansas Rep. Cotton leaves the door open for Senate run in 2014

By Lucas Tomlinson

Freshman Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., says he might consider a run for Senate against Democratic incumbent Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor after the current budget battles in Washington are over.

Cotton was asked Friday on "Power Play with Chris Stirewalt" whether he might challenge Pryor, as many have suggested. Pryor is considered potentially vulnerable in the 2014 Midterm elections in the heavily red state of Arkansas, where President Obama carried only 37 percent of the vote last year. Party leaders may be looking to Cotton, a rising star in the GOP, a Harvard-educated attorney as well as a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, to try to knock off Pryor.

"It seems like a lot of people have big plans for me, but I am not thinking about electoral concerns right now, I am focused on these strange deadlines with the sequester and spending cuts, continuing resolution and now the debt ceiling," Cotton replied. "Some of the most consequential work we do in the House will be in these next four months, and then down the road, I'll let politics sort itself out."

Cotton on Wednesday questioned Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya by Islamist militants. He asked Clinton a series of pointed questions about the status of the FBI investigation into the attack that killed four Americans, as well as the recent release in Tunisia of the only suspect in the attack who had been subsequently captured, Ali Harzi.

Following statements the Secretary made declaring a vigilant search for those responsible as a priority for the administration, Cotton said: "I was surprised that she did not find that a distressing development."

When asked why he thought nobody has heard from the diplomatic personnel present on the night of the attacks, Cotton, drawing back to his experience as an Infantry officer replied, "Anytime you have an engagement, you do reports and after action reviews-the soldiers who are on the front lines have the best information, not someone who had been listening in on an open phone line or had visited weeks prior."

Cotton also continued to voice his concern over the nomination of former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel to be Defense Secretary.

"I have been outspoken, said Cotton, "[Hagel] says the defense department is bloated and needs to be pared down...or his strange hostility towards Israel or his dangerous views on Iran and terrorism more generally." Cotton said recent defense cuts have been devastating and that any more reductions as a result of looming automatic spending cuts from a 2011 debt-limit deal under debate in the next 30-60 days would, "cut to the bone."

Cotton said Obama nominated a Republican to lead the Pentagon as cover to enact even more cuts-cuts that go beyond the sequester called for in the debt-limit deal.