Outside The Wire

Senate candidate’s commercial features his drill sergeant — who does not make him do pushups

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.’”


  1. George Sabillion Says:
    April 21st, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    We need real Leaders in office

  2. Ron Says:
    April 21st, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    “Sense of entitlement”?? Truer words have never been spoken. He is entitled to use honor and integrity to serve the people of his state just like he did to serve his country. Sounds like this Pryor guy hears the clock counting towards the end of his career

  3. unholy7 Says:
    April 21st, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    That was awesome. Short and sweet. Good luck cotton

  4. Duane Says:
    April 21st, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    Outstanding. Heres a Republican with leadership running for office based on values and a Democrat is offended by that. Worse yet he claims it to be an act of entitlement? Dust off your resume Mr Pryor.

  5. 21M Mike Says:
    April 21st, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Exactly what we need more of, Military leadership to un-f*ck this nation. Good Luck Mr. Cotton!

  6. Cantu Says:
    April 21st, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    Right on brother, Lead the Way!

  7. Tammy Moody Says:
    April 21st, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    I love it!!! Use that entitlement that only 1% can use. You earned it.

  8. freace Says:
    April 21st, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    I wish I lived in Arkansa, my family and I would vote for you all day. We need people like you in our congress that has forgotten who they serve, “We the People”. We need people with Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless-Serivce, Honor, Itegrity, and Personal Courage (LDRSHIP) serving in our congress and its people.

  9. James Patton Says:
    April 22nd, 2014 at 6:58 am

    Maybe if more Senators and Congressmen had served in the military before running for office, they’d HAVE SOMETHING OF A CLUE WHAT SERVING THIS COUNTRY ACTUALLY MEANS – versus serving themselves and whoever writes the biggest check.

  10. James Says:
    April 22nd, 2014 at 7:45 am

    I like it.

  11. aaron Says:
    April 22nd, 2014 at 8:35 am

    this violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the law. this sergeant should not have eone this. if cotton cant speak for himself, then why should he speak for arkansas?

  12. Meat Says:
    April 22nd, 2014 at 9:28 am

    As a current military member I think this is a GREAT ad that not only showcases how disconnected the liberal base is from society but how Cotton used the tools that Norton gave/enhanced in him to better himself, his unit, the Army and the Armed Forces…good luck in your Senate race…when you win, this will be the ultimate pay it forward moment!

  13. Geoff Says:
    April 22nd, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Let there be more leaders from the ranks of the military! As for the brash remark regarding entitlement…..funny from a US Sen. who expects free medical care etc for his service.

  14. Jim Philpitt Says:
    April 22nd, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    As a recently retired senior officer/aviator with more than one tour in “the sandbox,” I also noted Sen. Pryor’s comments regarding Rep. Cotton a couple of months ago in an article in the Early Bird Brief. Congressman Cotton hasn’t made a point of this in any rebuttal I’ve seen to date, but let me offer the following as a counterpoint to Sen. Pryor’s comments.

    The good senator…who is 6 1/2 years my junior and has never served a day in uniform…refers to, “…this sense of entitlement…” regarding Congressman Cotton and “That’s not how it works here in Arkansas.” With regard to how “it works” in Arkansas, perhaps the good senator would also like to point out that his father is a former Governor of Arkansas, is a former United States Senator from Arkansas, and that he currently holds the same U.S. Senate seat that his father held for 18 years. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Pryor

    Yes, yes, I know there are dynasties on both sides of the political aisle…and in our world of an all-volunteer force, we also have multiple generations in the services (in the interest of full disclosure, as a 30+ yr Navy CAPT, I’m the proud son and son-in-law of career Navy Chief Petty Officers). But it’s probably not wise to publicly play the “entitlement” card if you have a background like Sen. Pryor’s. In Naval Aviation, we tend to call that “poor headwork.”

  15. Jonah Says:
    April 29th, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    When Tammy Duckworth was running as a Democrat in Illinois, her Republican opponent accused *her* of using her military service for political gain. And not only did she serve in Iraq as a helicopter pilot, she lost both legs and damaged her right arm in combat operations. But I guess those accusations are acceptable when it’s a Republican making them.

  16. Nam Doc Says:
    May 4th, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    This country needs elected leaders like this not the ones that have never served but had offices all but passed on to them from family members holding the previous office. And they also had the benefit of the most important connections with strategists, pollsters, fundraisers etc. Does this found familiar Hillary? If the VA had leaders with the military experience, shared hardship experiences with the vets they serve they would not have the problems like those in Phoenix.

  17. JAG-Off Says:
    May 7th, 2014 at 8:41 am

    This was great! I enjoyed the ad and wish him the best. Contrary to Aaron’s statements posted above, this commercial violates neither the spirit nor the letter of the law. The fact that an individual running for office is a veteran is very relevant on the issue on their ability to serve. And all things being equal, military service would certainly give one candidate a leg up over another who did not serve because of the unique qualities and training he/she possesses. So why would a candidate not tout their military training?

  18. kevin Says:
    May 13th, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    well said Jonah. People need to learn to vote on the candidates merit and education and how that will mesh with what our country needs and who will represent those needs to the best of their abilities.