TAMPA, Fla. – Dressed in a dark wool suit, Tom Cotton bounced from interview to interview Thursday promoting the Republican Party and its conservative values.
"I’m here with the Arkansas delegation to show my support for them and for the Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan ticket," Cotton said during a morning interview at the Hilton Garden Inn.
Cotton is the Republican candidate in Arkansas’ 4th Congressional District now held by U.S. Rep. Mike Ross, D-Prescott, who is retiring. Political handicappers in Washington, D.C. expect Cotton to defeat the Democrat in the race, state Sen. Gene Jeffress of Louann.
Politico, a widely read news outlet, included Cotton as one of the "5 rising stars" to watch at the Tampa convention.
Republicans in Arkansas picked up two House seats and a Senate seat in 2010. Cotton, with help from the conservative Club for Growth, has also vastly outraised Jeffress. He raised $1.5 million by July while Jeffress had just $58,000.
Cotton expects to have an intense "get out the vote" effort for the Nov. 6 election. In the meantime, he decided to take a few days away from the district to be at the Republican National Convention.
Cotton said that the convention provided him an opportunity to meet with policy makers as well as media. The concentration of credentialed press – estimated at about 15,000 – gave him a rare opportunity to promote the Romney ticket to a wide audience.
Cotton arrived Wednesday, and aside from media interviews he also met with the National Republican Congressional Committee, and AIPAC, a pro-Israel group.
Jeffress, in a telephone interview from his home, said that Cotton was making a mistake in going to the convention rather than campaigning in the district.
"I’m here riding out Isaac and he’s riding out of town," Jeffress said. "He’s bought and paid for, and he is proving it down there."
Jeffress was on his porch after just returning from Hampton to campaign. The rain from Isaac, he said, was coming down in sheets and the wind was howling.
"I heard a tree fall on my property but it’s too windy to go out and check," he said.
Cotton planned to be in the Tampa Bay Times Forum Thursday night for Romney’s acceptance speech, and said he would return to his home in Dardanelle on Friday.
"There is a strong level of support for Mitt Romney and the Paul Ryan ticket here and a high degree of enthusiasm that we can win the election," he said.
Cotton is confident that Republicans will do well in Arkansas on Nov. 6. There are strong candidates down the ticket and Arkansas shares the conservative values of Romney and Ryan, he said.
"It is very helpful to have someone at the top of the ticket that has Arkansas values as opposed to Barack Obama," he said. "People are very motivated to cast their displeasure with President Obama’s four years in office."