UPDATE: On July 7th, USA Today reported:
“As speculation about his White House ambitions mount, Republican U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton said in Iowa Thursday that his two-day swing through the state is all about helping his party reclaim congressional majorities in 2022.
“We do have a lot of opportunity in 2024 not just for the White House but for the Senate as well,” the Arkansas senator told reporters after headlining an event for Story County Republicans in Cambridge. “But we’ve got to have a good start in 2022. So that’s where my electoral focus is right now, and future elections I’ll consider in the future.”
The speech capped off two days of public events as Cotton completed his seventh tour of Iowa since 2020. He attended events in support of 3rd Congressional District candidate Zach Nunn, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, Ankeny-area legislative candidates and the Story County party.”
Senator Tom Cotton is entering a crucial phase to capitalize on new concerns among conservative donors and voters regarding Trump’s damage from the January 6th hearings. Politico reported that Tom Cotton is gathering big donors to talk 2024 presidential race. According to the story, Cotton told advisers at the meeting that wouldn’t defer to any other would-be candidates — including Trump — and said he planned to make a final decision on whether to run after this year’s midterm election.
While the vast majority of Republicans in recent polls have shown no interest in the January hearings, the general public has been exposed to additional documents and videos surrounding Trump’s awareness and involvement with the January 6th protests that turned violent. Don’t expect Cotton to specifically cite the recently released footage and testimony as a reason for them to contemplate a 2024 run, but don’t be surprised if you hear second-hand accounts of either shadow campaign recruiting more supporters during the next two weeks leading up to Independence Day. Make no mistake – Cotton’s shadow campaign was happy to let that news leak to serve as a trial balloon for gauging interests among military hawkish establishment Republicans, particularly from the pre-Trump era, now referred to disdainfully among Trump supporters as “Establishment RINO Republicans.” The Politico article noted, “When Cotton rose to speak, he argued that he had developed appeal to the populist and establishment wings of the party, which he contended would serve him well in a primary.”
In addition to Cotton’s appeal to establishment Republicans, he also has more potential cash than a typical rookie presidential candidate. Thanks to low competition he faced for Senate in 2020, Cotton was able to focus on building donor bases in Iowa and New Hampshire. According to Politico, Cotton has $8 million that could immediately be transferred to a presidential effort, enough to sustain him through the early stages of a campaign.
An important fact to remember about Cotton compared to many would-be rival candidates in a 2024 GOP Primary is that Cotton voted to certify the 2020 Election results to confirm Joe Biden as the President-elect. Conversely, Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri joined Ted Cruz and five other senators who voted to overturn the results in Arizona, while 93 senators voted against.
Recent reports from sources including NBC News speculate that Trump may officially announce a re-election campaign as early as this July 4th, but keep in mind that such official declarations carry consequences including new limits to how funds are applied to advertising efforts and other critical areas of campaign organizing. Between now and 2023, there are opportunities for Cotton or others such as Cruz to solicit additional support from newfound skeptics of Trump’s chances that are as clear and obvious as this current phase where new facts are published daily regarding the dysfunction among Trump’s top staff in January 2021. Biden is also polling at the lowest point of his Presidency, which may give Trump more room to wait as potential Republican primary challengers such as Cotton, Cruz, DeSantis or Hawley burn through their own resources to attack potential competitors as they attempt to solidify their status as Trump’s most viable contender.