Rep. Tom Cole says Republicans will focus on national security in midterm elections. (Courtesy)
WASHINGTON — An influential House Republican leadership member made clear Tuesday his party intends to inject national security and foreign policy issues into this year’s midterm elections.
House GOP Deputy Whip Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., was asked during a television appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” what issues other than Obamacare would be central to the party’s midterm election platform. He immediately pointed to national security, saying President Barack Obama’s record has left his fellow Democrats vulnerable on the issue.
“National security is re-emerging as an issue given, frankly, the weakness of the American response over the Ukrainian issue,” Cole said.
He also cited “the hot-button issues, like the Iranian nuclear arms discussions and the Palestinian-Israeli dispute” as matters on which Republicans believe they have an advantage over Democratic candidates.
Cole contended that, generally, Republicans are “for a more robust defense” and a “stronger foreign policy,” which he collectively dubbed a “more traditional Republican issue.”
In recent years, establishment Republican lawmakers and analysts have acknowledged the party has lost the perception of being better on national security and foreign policy issues than Democrats.
That feeling continues to be backed up by polling data.
Cole also took a few swipes at Obama over Russia’s invasion and occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea region, which Moscow has annexed.
Cole pointed to the Obama administration’s reversing of its predecessor’s plans to put missile defense systems in Poland and Czech Republic, as well as its failed reset policy with Moscow and what he called “the debacle in Syria” as being a collective “trigger for what Putin did in Crimea.” ■