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Freshman Rep. Cotton challenges isolationist wing of GOP

Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., expresses his views on the ongoing budget battle in Washington and how it impacts America's military.

 

Freshman Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., an Army veteran, took on the growing isolationist tide in the Republican Party during his speech Thursday at CPAC.

Cotton, who was awarded a Bronze Star following tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, insisted that an isolationist approach to foreign policy would put the country’s safety at risk.  

“I worry that when we withdraw from the world the world is not going to withdraw from us,” Cotton told NBC’s Kasie Hunt after he appeared on a panel at the Conservative Political Action Convention called “Too Many American Wars? Should We Fight Anywhere And Can We Afford It?”

At the panel, Cotton said the answer to that question was no: “We’re fighting one war. And it’s a war on radical Islam.”

He also suggested defense spending should be shielded from sequestration, saying, “I support the level of spending that sequestration imposes but I would like to see that spending shifted back towards the military, away from domestic programs.”

Cotton asserted that defense spending, which made up 20 percent of federal expenditures in 2012, is not part of the government’s money woes: “We certainly have a staggering national debt. Our military is not responsible for that,” he said during the panel.

When it comes to his own political aspirations, Cotton, who is already being touted as a prospective Senate challenger to Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, remained mum, although he did – perhaps – set a timetable for his decision-making. 

“I was just elected a few months ago,” he said. “There’ll be a time for politics later this year.”