Sen. Tom Cotton says he’s “very confident about 2022.”
The GOP senator from Arkansas is crisscrossing the country this summer, helping to raise money and support Republicans running in the 2022 midterm elections, when GOP aims to win back majorities in the House and Senate.
Two of the Republicans top four Senate targets in next year’s midterms are in Nevada and New Hampshire, where first-term Democratic Sens. Catherine Cortez-Masto and Maggie Hassan are running for reelection. Those two states also happen to play crucial roles in the race for the White House, holding the second and fourth contests in the GOP presidential nominating calendar.
Cotton, whom pundits consider a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, was in Nevada this weekend, one of the featured speakers at former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s sixth annual Basque Fry, which raises money for Silver State Republicans.
“Maybe [Laxalt] can’t say it, but I’m going to preview it,” Cotton said during his speech to the crowd at the event, which attracted a bunch of Republican White House hopefuls in the 2016 presidential election cycle. “Right now, the Democrats are in charge in Washington. We’re going to change that come 2022, and that change starts right here in Nevada, when Adam Laxalt sends Catherine Cortez Masto packing home for Nevada.”
Laxalt, the grandson of former senator and governor Paul Laxalt, didn’t make any campaign news at the Basque Fry, but an announcement of his likely Senate bid could come as early as this week.
Cotton praised Laxalt in an interview with Fox News, saying as “a fellow veteran, as someone who stood up for law and order in Nevada, Adam Laxalt will be a great candidate for the United States Senate.”
With the GOP needing a net gain of just one seat to regain the Senate majority it lost in the 2020 cycle. Cotton emphasized that “Nevada is a critical state for us to win back the United States Senate.”
“I’m glad to be here today,” Cotton said before adding that “I look forward to being back in the Silver State, a lot over the next year.”
Friends that Cotton makes in Nevada this year and next year could potentially pay dividends if the senator from Arkansas launches a White House bid following next year’s midterms. On Friday evening, Cotton held a fundraiser along the shores of Lake Tahoe for his own political operation.
U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton speaks to the crowd, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, at Morning in Nevada PAC’s Basque Fry at Corley Ranch in Gardnerville, Nev. Cotton told a crowd of about 4,000 Nevada Republicans that Adam Laxalt planned to run for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto. (AP Photo/Sam Metz)
Cotton, who faced nominal opposition last year as he ran for reelection, spent much of his time campaigning for then-President Trump’s 2020 reelection as well as for down-ballot Republicans. His travels brought him both to Iowa, which for half a century’s kicked off the presidential nominating calendar, as well as New Hampshire, which for a century has held the first primary in the White House race.
Cotton made a jam-packed multi-day swing through New Hampshire last month, and in late June he headlined an event in Iowa for the state GOP.
On Saturday, Cotton demurred when asked twice by Fox News about 2024.
He emphasized that the 2022 midterms are “the election that’s in my eye sights” and he added that “we’ll let future elections work themselves out.”
DeSantis Nevada trip cancelled
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was also scheduled to be a featured speaker at Laxalt’s event.
But on Friday, with a tropical depression bearing down on Florida, the governor cancelled his political trip.
It’s the second time this summer DeSantis has had to scrap a political appearance due to his duties as Sunshine State governor.
The governor passed on appearing at a July 4th holiday weekend rally headlined by Trump in Sarasota, and instead attended services for victims of the horrific condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida.
Cruz makes endorsement in Iowa
Sen. Ted Cruz is making his first endorsement in one of the early voting presidential primary and caucus states.
The conservative firebrand from Texas and runner up to Trump in the bitter 2016 GOP nomination battle this past week endorsed Nicole Hasso, a financial planner in Iowa who’s running next year against Democratic Rep Cindy Axne (IA-03). The two-term Democrat is being heavily targeted by the GOP in next year’s midterms.
“We need new strong leaders in Congress like Nicole. She will take on the swamp & will help fight back against the Left’s extremist agenda.”
Cruz, who narrowly won the 2016 Iowa caucuses, makes his first stop this cycle in the Hawkeye State later this month, to headline a fundraiser for Rep. Ashley Hinson, a rising star in the GOP who could face a challenging reelection next year.
Trump makes hires in Iowa
Trump, nearly seven months removed from the White House, remains very popular with Republican voters as he continues to play a kingmaker’s role in GOP politics and repeatedly flirts with another White House run in 2024.
And the hiring this past week by the former president’s Save America leadership political action committee of two veteran political operatives in Iowa will only further speculation about a third Trump presidential bid.
Eric Branstad and Alex Latcham are joining the PAC as senior advisers, according to a memo to staff on Thursday.
Branstad served as 2016 state director in Iowa for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, a Commerce Department senior adviser during the Trump administration, and a top adviser in the Hawkeye State during last year’s reelection campaign. He’s also the son of former longtime Gov. Terry Branstad, who served as ambassador to U.S. ambassador to China during the Trump administration. Latcham was Trump’s political director in Iowa in the 2016 general election campaign, and a deputy political director in the Trump White House.
Trump political adviser Taylor Budowich told Fox News that “Eric and Alex have both been warriors for the President’s America First agenda. As senior advisors to Save America, we will rely on their extensive expertise to help guide the organization’s political efforts across the country as President Donald J. Trump continues to be the defining force in American politics.”
Trump also reached out last week to Iowa GOP chair Jeff Kaufmann.
“Had a great 15 minute call from President Trump this evening. He asked about Iowa’s farmers and other topics including Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status,” Kaufman tweeted.
Keeping the calendar as is in 2024
Kaufmann on Friday was named chair of the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) Presidential Nominating Process Committee. The announcement came as the RNC wrapped up its annual summer meeting, which was held this year in Nashville, Tennessee.
The GOP chairs in New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina – which holds the first southern contest and votes third in the Republican presidential nominating calendar – were also named to the committee, which will make recommendations for the GOP calendar in the 2024 cycle. The move is viewed as an unofficial seal of approval by RNC leadership of keeping the current calendar for the next GOP nomination race.
There’s plenty of talk – and drama – among Democrats to alter the 2024 presidential nominating calendar, with Nevada Democrats recently passing a law to leapfrog their state ahead of Iowa and New Hampshire to become the lead-off nominating contest. But RNC chair Ronna McDaniel says there’s no such drama when it comes to the next GOP presidential primary and caucus calendar.
“I’m definitely not hearing chatter from our members to change the calendar,” the RNC chair told Fox News ahead of the summer meeting.
“We’re going to let the nominating committee do its work, and then we’ll let them present their report and then members will ultimately decide, but it’s fair to say that we’re not hearing buzz around that with the RNC members right now,” McDaniel said.
Fox News’ Robert Sherman contributed to this story