Arkansas Republican Congressman Tom Cotton got his “Full Metal Jacket” on by having his drill sergeant endorse him in an ad for his Senate campaign.
Cotton, who served as an Army infantry officer in Iraq and Afghanistan, is expected to be the Republican candidate who will run for the U.S. Senate in November’s midterm elections against the incumbent, Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor. In a March interview with NBC News, Pryor criticized Cotton for using his military record as part of his campaign.
“I think that it’s part of this sense of entitlement that he gives off, that almost is like, ‘I served my country; therefore, let me into the Senate,” Pryor said. “That’s not how it works in Arkansas.”
In the 30-second ad, Cotton responds to Pryor’s “sense of entitlement” remark by introducing his former drill sergeant, whom he praises for teaching him accountability, humility and putting the unit’s needs first – traits which he says have stuck with him.
Army Reserve Master Sgt. George Norton responds to Cotton’s kind overtures by making his former recruit stand attention, telling Cotton that he still needs to refer to him as “Drill Sergeant Norton” and issuing a stern warning at the end of the ad: “You’re on thin ice, Cotton.”
Norton, who was not in uniform in the campaign ad, issued a statement through Cotton’s campaign praising the candidate for demonstrating “the values of integrity and selfless leadership that we teach in the Army.”
“No one who’s ever met Tom would get the idea that he felt ‘entitled’ to anything,” Norton said in the statement. “Tom always put the unit ahead of himself, and he was an excellent soldier. I’m confident he’ll be an excellent U.S. senator as well.”
To comply with regulations limiting political activity for U.S. service members, the campaign ad contained two disclaimers to make clear that neither Cotton nor Norton were speaking on behalf of the Defense Department, said campaign spokesman David Ray.
“Tom’s disclaimer reads: ‘Congressman Cotton was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army. Use of his rank, job titles and photos in uniform do not imply endorsement by the Department of Defense or any Service Branch,’ ” Ray said in an email to Army Times on Monday.
“Sgt. Norton’s disclaimer reads: ‘George Norton is a member of the U.S. Army Reserve. His military rank, job title, and appearance in this ad do not imply official sponsorship, approval, or endorsement by the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense.’”