EL DORADO, Ark. — Democrats are trying to turn the critical Senate race here into a personality contest, and Republican Tom Cotton knows he’s got a serious problem if they succeed.And then a couple of dozen worth of Tom Cotton being a "warm" guy around Arkansas, with a few substantive nuggets buried within. Here's the thing, though: Democrats aren't running against Cotton's personality. They're running against his votes, which happen to be against farmers and against seniors. He might be the most personable guy in the world, but he has voted against seniors and he has voted against farmers.
In top battleground Senate races across the nation, Democrats believe their best shot is to frame the contests as a discrete choice between two people—as opposed to a national referendum on President Barack Obama—then make the Republican as repugnant as possible. Cotton’s response: an all-out charm offensive. He’s hosted a country music concert with Jo Dee Messina, invited a POLITICO reporter on a 5-mile run through the onetime oil boom town of El Dorado, given TV news crews tours of his family’s cattle farm and blanketed the airwaves with ads highlighting his softer side.
“I’m warm, dammit,” Cotton joked during an interview over breakfast here, when asked whether his efforts are meant to bolster his personal appeal.
And even in this Politico piece—buried deep within—he talks about his openness to privatizing Social Security, saying "everything needs to be on the table" to "modernize" the program and ensure it's "available for the next generation." His immediate solution for the non-problem of Social Security: raise the retirement age to 70.
That's the problem for Arkansas voters, the problem the Democrats are pointing out. This has nothing to do with a "personality contest." It has everything to do with Cotton's political ideology and his votes against his constituents' best interests.