The Arkansas state Legislature wants to make it easier for Republican Sen. Tom Cotton to run for president in 2020.
The AP reported Wednesday morning that the state Senate is looking at a bill that would allow its congressional and Senate candidates to also appear on the state’s ballot as presidential or vice presidential candidates. The bill’s author, state Sen. Bart Hester, says he did not consult with Cotton about the bill, but Hester said the legislation is directed specifically at Cotton, whose first term is set to expire in 2020.
Cotton is only in the third month of his Senate career, and he’s made no mention of a White House run. Indeed, should a GOP candidate win in 2016, Cotton would likely not even consider a run until 2024, rather than challenge an incumbent in a primary.
Still, the party is excited about his political future: The Senate’s youngest member, Cotton is a Harvard-educated combat veteran with support from both the Republican establishment and the counter-establishment. He has quickly made waves in the Senate, positioning himself as a chief antagonist to the White House’s foreign policy plans. This week, Cotton penned a letter to Iranian leaders warning against the strength of any nuclear deal struck with President Obama. The letter, signed by 47 senators, enraged Cotton’s Democratic colleagues, who called it a direct attempt to undermine U.S. negotiators.
The idea of clearing the path for in-state talent to seek higher office while holding onto their current gig isn’t unique to Arkansas. A similar effort to allow Gov. Mike Pence to run for both a second term and seek the White House in 2016 failed in Indiana, and Republicans in South Dakota are currently looking to repeal the “Daschle law” from 2002 that they believe could stand in the way of Sen. John Thune’s political rise. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is exploring a variety of options to circumvent a state law preventing him from appearing on the ballot twice, for reelection to his Senate seat and as a presidential nominee.
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"North Korea said on Friday it might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean after President Donald Trump vowed to destroy the reclusive country, with leader Kim Jong Un promising to make Trump pay dearly for his threats. Kim did not specify what action he would take against the United States or Trump, whom he called a 'mentally deranged U.S. dotard' in the latest bout of insults the two leaders have traded in recent weeks."
President Trump this afternoon announced another round of sanctions on North Korea, calling the regime "a continuing threat." The executive order, which Trump relayed to Congress, bans any ship or plane that has visited North Korea from visiting the United States within 180 days. The order also authorizes sanctions on any financial institution doing business with North Korea, and permits the secretaries of State and the Treasury to sanction any person involved in trading with North Korea, operating a port there, or involved in a variety of industries there.
In response to a reporter's question, President Trump said "he’ll be looking to impose further financial penalties on North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic tests. ... The U.N. has passed two resolutions recently aimed at squeezing the North Korean economy by cutting off oil, labor and exports to the nation." Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that South Korea's unification ministry is sending an $8m aid package aimed at infants and pregnant women in North Korea. The "humanitarian gesture [is] at odds with calls by Japan and the US for unwavering economic and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang."