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2016 Republican National Convention
Speech by Arizona Senator Tom Cotton

July 18, 2016

For nearly five years, Tom Cotton served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army. He completed two combat tours, serving in Iraq with the 101st Airborne and in Afghanistan. Upon returning home, Cotton worked for McKinsey & Co. and served one term in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2015, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he represents the state of Arkansas.

For eight years, we’ve seen what happens when America leads from behind. Leading from behind that’s not what the Army taught me. To everyone who agrees that America should lead the way, let me say loud and clear: help is on the way.

Let me tell you a story about an Arkansas farm boy. When America was at war, he was in school and then in a comfortable job. But he sacrificed that comfort, against the wishes of his father, who himself had served. He volunteered for the Army. He became an infantryman. That farm boy was my dad. He went to Vietnam in 1969.

Thirty-five years later, I did the same. Against the wishes of my family, I gave up my legal career and I volunteered for the Army. I became an infantryman. I went to Iraq and Afghanistan. My dad said he felt like God was punishing him for what he did to his dad.

But God wasn’t punishing them; God had called us to serve. Just as He calls so many of you.

My family isn’t extraordinary; in fact, we’re very ordinary. From farms in Arkansas to fire stations in New York, many families could tell the same story. The defense of this country is a family affair.

We don’t fight because we hate our enemies, but because we love our country. We love its freedom. We love that we’re born equal and live free, that no one rules without consent.

We know these things are worth fighting and dying for because they make life worth living for.

Our warriors and their families don’t ask for much. But there are a few things we’d like.

A commander-in-chief who speaks of winning wars and not merely ending wars, calls the enemy by its name, and draws red lines carefully, but enforces them ruthlessly.

And politicians who treat our common defense as the chief responsibility of our federal government, not just another government program.

This isn’t much to ask for, but eight years without it is more than enough. So I say again: In a Trump-Pence administration and with a Republican Congress, help is on the way.

No man wants more war if he’s planned memorial services for fallen comrades, carried their flag-draped caskets off a plane, and buried them at Arlington National Cemetery.

But as Washington said: “To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.”

The purpose of our common defense, after all, is to protect our people so that we can enjoy the blessings of peace, faith, freedom, family, prosperity.

My father and his father were willing to fight so that their children and grandchildren might live in peace. That wasn’t to be. But my generation is willing to fight so that our children might live in peace.

And for that cause, I speak tonight not only to Republicans, but to the millions of Independents and Democrats who share that dream and who wish to make America safe again.

Thank you, and God bless you.