LITTLE ROCK — U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said Wednesday he would give President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office a report card with grades ranging from A-pluses on Syria and the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch to an incomplete on health care.
Cotton made the comments at the Robinson Center in downtown Little Rock during an hourlong question-and-answer session with Skip Rutherford, dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, which organized the program.
The event was held two days after a town hall meeting at a Little Rock hotel where Cotton and U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, faced a boisterous crowd for about 90 minutes. Audience members at Wednesday’s program kept mostly quiet but occasionally burst into applause or boos, and some held up green or red paper to signal silently that they agreed or disagreed, respectively, with Cotton’s comments — with the red papers popping up much more often than the green.
Asked by Rutherford what grade he would give Trump for his first 100 days in office — a milestone Trump will reach on April 29 — Cotton said he would give him a report card with different grades on different topics.
“I’d give an A-plus on certain matters, like the confirmation of Justice Gorsuch or our reaction to those chemical attacks in Syria,” he said. “There are other things I’d give a lower grade on. I’d give a B on the nominations process.”
On health care, “I’d have to give an incomplete,” Cotton said.
Cotton praised Trump’s decision earlier this month to launch airstrikes on a Syrian airstrip in response to a chemical weapons attack by Syrian President Bashar Assad estimated to have killed 87 civilians, some of them children.
“I do think the president made the right decision, and when Bashar Assad used those chemical weapons on his people, to include even innocent little kids who you all saw writhing in pain and suffocating to death, that it was right to strike that airfield,” Cotton said.
He said Trump “said essentially, mess with the bull, get the horns. And sometimes America has to say that.”
Cotton said Trump’s policies toward Syria, North Korea and other countries “have a very healthy influence on restoring American power, prestige and credibility in the world.”
On Gorsuch’s confirmation, he said, “That’s something that’s a 30-year victory for President Trump.”
Cotton said he believes Trump has assembled a good cabinet, but “we’re falling behind on populating the rest of the government.”
“The White House needs to move faster on getting those nominations to us,” he said.
Cotton said he was not concerned that in his first 100 days Trump has not fulfilled his campaign promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
“I’d rather get it right than get it fast on everything. We elect presidents to four-year terms, not 100-day terms,” he said.
Regarding the health-care bill that failed to win support in the House despite Trump’s backing, Cotton said that “we’re better off that that bill didn’t go forward.”
“Better to send it back to the drawing board than to rush it through just so we can claim some victory from a legislative front in the first 100 days. The victory I want to see is every Arkansan having access to affordable, quality care, whether a bill passes in March or whether a bill passes later this year,” he said.