Sioux Center, Iowa (CNN)Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas blamed President Joe Biden for porous borders, waning support for police officers and “a crime wave of unprecedented proportions” Tuesday night in Iowa.
Cotton joined the ranks of prospective 2024 Republican presidential candidates to make early visits Tuesday when he appeared at a state GOP event at Jim Dean’s Classic Car Museum in Sioux Center, in Iowa’s northwestern corner.
The stop was punctuated by an only-in-Iowa ending: Cotton and longtime Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley went through Grassley’s workout routine onstage, doing 22 push-ups face-to-face while the state’s other Republican senator, Joni Ernst, counted them off.
Cotton’s 20-minute stump speech offered a preview of the themes the senator could emphasize as a candidate. He attacked critical race theory, a decades-old concept that recognizes that systemic racism is part of American society and challenges the beliefs that allow it to flourish. The theory has become the subject of attacks from Republicans — who have at times mischaracterized the concept and how it is taught — in recent months. Some GOP state legislatures have moved to ban it from schools.
Cotton said critical race theory “may be the most dangerous theory of all.”
“If we put the brakes on the Biden agenda, if we win in 2024, that’s all for the better. If we, however, let the left indoctrinate an entire generation of our kids to hate America, what will we have gained?” Cotton said.
He was the latest in a steady stream of 2024 Republican presidential prospects to visit Iowa. Already, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and Florida’s Sen. Rick Scott are among the potential contenders to make stops in the state in 2021.
Former United Nations Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley took top billing at a state GOP event last week.
And former Vice President Mike Pence, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Pompeo are set to visit Iowa next month for the Family Leadership Summit, an event hosted by the organization led by prominent Iowa social conservative Bob Vander Plaats. Pence will also headline the Feenstra Family picnic in Sioux Center.
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