The negativity and mudslinging in Arkansas' Senate race is entirely the work of the Democratic incumbent, the man running to replace him said on Tuesday.
"You'd have to ask Mark Pryor about that," Rep. Tom Cotton, a Republican and Army veteran campaigning to unseat Pryor in November, told Newsmax TV's
Ed Berliner on "Midpoint."
"He and [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid and their allies have been running negative attack after negative attack against me, without defending Mark Pryor's record at all," said Cotton. "I guess if I voted for Barack Obama 93 percent of the time, then I might not want to defend my record, either."
A contest gaining national attention for nastiness owes its tone in part to an ad barrage against Cotton financed by liberal groups, including Senate Majority PAC, an organization staffed by former congressional employees of Reid.
One Senate Majority PAC spot slammed Cotton for "reckless" and "irresponsible" House budget-cutting votes that, according to the ad, would have endangered Arkansas seniors and farmers.
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Cotton's own ads, by contrast, have co-starred family and friends — "my mom and my dad, and my old Army drill sergeant, and my wife," he noted. One clip in which he and wife Anna plant flowers at home is "the 'dirtiest' my ads have gotten," he quipped.
But for all the harsh TV depictions of Cotton, he appears to be holding up well in polls
— even pulling ahead in a tight race that also figures into GOP hopes for regaining control of the Senate.
"The race in Arkansas is moving in our way because Arkansans are moving against President Obama and liberal senators like Mark Pryor who enable him," said Cotton.
Cotton said he's campaigning as "a brake on the Obama agenda" and would bring to the Senate some of his House efforts to cut government spending, repeal and replace Obamacare, and rebuild U.S. military capacity at a time of increasing global peril.
He also cited the scandalous wait times for veterans
seeking care at military hospitals run by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Cotton said he is "appalled" by treatment delays "that are far beyond anything — any targets the VA set for itself or what we should expect from a well-functioning healthcare system."
He called reports of falsified waiting lists at VA medical centers part of an "underlying problem: government trying to run a healthcare system."
If he could speak to the president, "I'd say, 'Take this authority that Congress has given you, begin to clean house in the Department of Veterans Affairs, fire the people who are responsible for this misconduct, and let veterans seek care either at a VA hospital, if that's their choice, or in their local communities."
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