Tom Cotton Started a Twitter Spat With Iran’s Foreign Minister

Twitter is a weird place.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
National Journal
Add to Briefcase
Marina Koren
April 30, 2015, 4:38 a.m.

On Wed­nes­day, Tom Cot­ton was tweet­ing pho­tos of his new­born son. On Thursday, he was tweet­ing cri­ti­cism at the Ir­a­ni­an for­eign min­is­ter.

The fresh­man Re­pub­lic­an sen­at­or from Arkan­sas was re­spond­ing to Javad Za­rif’s re­cent com­ments on the emer­ging nuc­le­ar deal between the United States and Ir­an. A United Na­tions res­ol­u­tion would provide sanc­tions re­lief to Ir­an after ne­go­ti­at­ors reached an agree­ment in June, Za­rif said, “wheth­er Sen. Cot­ton likes it or not.”

(RE­LATED: Tom Cot­ton: The Most Power­ful Fresh­man)

Cot­ton’s re­ac­tion took on a “let’s settle this out­side” kind of ap­proach.

This morn­ing, Za­rif re­spon­ded, with a single sear­ing tweet:

Just a few months in­to his first term, Cot­ton has be­come one of the most vis­ible crit­ics of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s hand­ling of Ir­an policy. In March, Cot­ton spear­headed a let­ter signed by him­self and 46 oth­er Re­pub­lic­an sen­at­ors to Ir­a­ni­an lead­ers warn­ing them that even if the two na­tions reached an agree­ment to curb Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram, Con­gress — or a fu­ture pres­id­ent — could change or re­voke the ac­cord. Cot­ton’s de­cision to pen the let­ter and go around col­lect­ing his col­leagues’ sig­na­tures was an un­usu­al move — es­pe­cially for a fresh­man sen­at­or, who are tra­di­tion­ally meant “to be seen, and not heard.” It triggered days of back­lash from the ad­min­is­tra­tion, Demo­crats, and even a few Re­pub­lic­ans.

(RE­LATED: Tom Cot­ton Is Tak­ing the Biggest Risk of His Ca­reer. But It Could Reap Huge Re­wards.)

Cot­ton’s tweets to Za­rif are a rather un­usu­al move for a sen­at­or, too. And they in­dic­ate that Cot­ton doesn’t plan to let go of the in-your-face strategy he has built in a few short months for be­ing heard on and off the Hill about for­eign policy. The fact that he’s a new sen­at­or doesn’t ap­pear to faze him, either. “I think this ques­tion is not a mat­ter of how long someone has been in the Sen­ate or the Con­gress or how long [someone] has been serving in the gov­ern­ment,” Cot­ton told re­port­ers earli­er this month, “but who is right and who is wrong about this mat­ter.”


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.