Trump running mate contender Sen. Tom Cotton called 'a workhorse, not a show horse'

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Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., is in the Trump running mate spotlight.

The Army veteran, who served in combat in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars before becoming a rising star in Republican Party politics, has been viewed as a potential running mate since he endorsed the former president in early January, two weeks ahead of the Iowa caucuses.

But buzz about the senator intensified following a slew of media reports in late May that Cotton was moving up on Trump’s list for the GOP’s vice presidential nomination.

“I speak to President Trump and his senior team pretty regularly about the campaign and that we’re doing everything we can to set him up for success,” Cotton said this past week in an interview with Fox News Digital.


tom cotton donald trump

President Trump speaks while Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., listens during an introduction of the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C.,  on Aug. 2, 2017. (Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

But Cotton emphasized that “we haven’t talked about the vice presidential choice.”

“I suspect there’s only one person who knows who’s genuinely on his short list and who he’s going to choose and that’s President Trump, and I’m confident that with a great roster of Republicans that he’s going to make a good choice at the right time,” the senator added.

Asked if he’d say yes if Trump offered him the running mate slot, Cotton said, “I do love my job in the United States Senate. It’s a privilege and an honor to serve the people of Arkansas and the people of our nation, but of course, any patriot if asked by the President of the United States to serve in another capacity, would have to seriously entertain it.”


The 47-year-old Cotton has built a reputation during his tenure in Congress as a conservative hardliner and a small-government Republican.

“He’s articulate. He’s smart. I feel like he’s right in the heart of what the party is and wants right now,” longtime Republican strategist David Koch told Fox News when asked about Cotton’s political attributes.

Tom Cotton at NHGOP fundraiser in Rye NH on Aug. 16 2022

Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas speaks with an activist at a GOP fundraiser in Rye, New Hampshire, on Aug. 16, 2022. (Fox News)

Koch, a veteran of numerous GOP presidential campaigns, added that Cotton is young and that “he does the work. He’s a workhorse, not a show horse… He’s sharp and is going to be a good debater.”

Pointing to Cotton’s military service and his position on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Koch added, “I think his credibility on foreign policy is pretty important.”

Among the potential drawbacks — the obvious. As a white male, Cotton would bring no added diversity to the Republican national ticket. 


Another issue — he hails from a reliably red state. But he is far from the only potential running mate contender who lives in a state where Republicans dominate the political landscape.

Cotton was interviewed by Fox News as he made a stop in New Hampshire to help campaign with former Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who is the frontrunner for this year’s Republican gubernatorial nomination in the race to succeed retiring Gov. Chris Sununu.

Kelly Ayotte Tom Cotton Londonderry July 2 2024 scaled

Sen. Tom Cotton R-Ark., joins former Sen. Kelly Ayotte, the front-runner for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in New Hampshire, on the campaign trail in Londonderry, New Hampshire, on July 2. (Fox News – Paul Steinhauser)

Cotton is no stranger to New Hampshire, the state that for a century has held the first primary in the race for the White House.

The senator made two stops in the Granite State in 2020 on behalf of then-President Trump’s re-election campaign. And he was a frequent visitor in 2021 and 2022 to campaign on behalf of Republicans running in the midterm elections and to test the waters on a possible 2024 White House bid. 

But days before the 2022 midterms, Cotton announced he wouldn’t run for the White House in 2024.

And in his first interview after announcing his decision, the senator emphasized why he didn’t run.

“Family was really the only consideration,” Cotton said at the time.

The senator and his wife, Anna, are the parents of two young boys.

“My boys are ages 7 and 5. They’re old enough to know that dad’s gone and be sad about it, but not old enough to understand the purpose and why it all matters and why the sacrifice is worth it,” Cotton said at the time. “I am pretty sure Republican voters can find another nominee, but I know that my sons can’t find another dad for the next two years.”

The senator added that “over the next two years, my 7-year-old will learn to hit the fastball and my 5-year-old will learn to read, and I want to be there to teach them both.”

But Cotton didn’t rule out a White House bid in the future.

Fast-forward nearly two years, and Cotton reiterated that he “closed the chapter on national race at the time but my wife and I didn’t necessarily close the book” on a presidential campaign in 2028 or beyond. 

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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