LITTLE ROCK — Former Arkansas governor and current Florida resident Mike Huckabee returned to his home state Monday to endorse the Senate bid of U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle.
Huckabee, who finished second to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in the 2008 Republican presidential primary contest, held a news conference in Little Rock with Cotton, who is in a tough race with U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.
Huckabee cast the race as a referendum on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
“It’s very important to America that Harry Reid gets moved to the back of the room,” he said. “Bills go in, but they never come out. … It has been unbelievable, the obstruction that this man has brought to the Senate.”
Huckabee also praised Cotton for leaving a private law practice to enter the Army and serve in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“There just aren’t many people that you see who will leave a successful and lucrative career to make the sacrifice, not just financial but the physical sacrifice of standing between bullets, bombs and the American people, which is exactly what he did,” said Huckabee, now the host of a Fox News Channel program.
Cotton’s financial backers include the Club for Growth, an anti-tax group that has attacked Huckabee for supporting certain tax increases when he was Arkansas governor, prompting Huckabee to call the group the “Club for Greed.” Huckabee was asked Monday how he reconciled his support of Cotton with his past statements about the group.
“I’m glad to see they’re on the right side of a candidate for once,” he said. “It’s very refreshing.”
Cotton, who last week received an endorsement from another former GOP presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney, said that “a senator who is going to represent Arkansas’ conservative values doesn’t need to be a senator who rubber-stamps the Obama agenda, and unfortunately that’s what Mark Pryor has been doing for the last six years.”
He said Pryor has supported President Barack Obama on issues such as the Affordable Care Act, environmental regulations and foreign policy in the Middle East.
“On these and every other issue, Mark Pryor has been a loyal vote for the Obama administration,” Cotton said. “Arkansans know that Mark Pryor no longer reflects their conservative views and values and that it’s time to retire Mark Pryor, to elect a conservative to the United States Senate from our conservative state.”
Pryor spokesman Grant Herring said Monday that Cotton’s claims were “flatly false” and that Arkansans know Pryor will stand up to anyone who advances ideas he believes are wrong for Arkansas.
“Mark opposed burdensome EPA regulations that threatened to hurt Arkansas family farmers and small businesses, he supports building the Keystone pipeline because it means good American jobs, and he voted against President Obama’s gun control legislation last year, which was a major priority for the president but in Mark’s view infringed on Arkansans’ cherished Second Amendment rights,” he said.
Herring said Arkansas voters “see this $19 million being spent by Washington special interest groups on Congressman Cotton’s behalf and they know these out-of-state billionaires don’t care one bit about Arkansas. They’re spending a fortune to elect someone who consistently carries their water, but Tom Cotton’s ambition is no excuse for voting against Arkansas seniors, students, women and working families.”