Pulling Rank

As voters’ attention turns to national security worries, the military backgrounds of top GOP hopefuls are an asset for Senate Republicans.

The GOP has long polled better on terrorism and security concerns, but now the party has faces and experience to speak on those issues, as Republicans aim to take back control of the Senate.

Chief among them are Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and state Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who served in Iraq as a lieutenant colonel with the Iowa National Guard.

Others include Alaska Republican Dan Sullivan, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, and Scott Brown, a retired Army National Guard colonel, running in New Hampshire.

Republicans are trying to “nationalize” the upcoming election and “piggy back” off of the president’s low approval ratings on foreign policy and national security, according to GOP strategist Ford O’Connell.

He predicted that the new conflict in the Middle East, including the U.S.-led military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), would be the “wild card issue” that could decide races where the candidates are separated by only a few percentage points.

“If they can’t tag President Obama on ISIS, they can point to themselves and say, ‘Trust me I was once part of the military,’ ” O’Connell said, citing Ernst and Cotton specifically.

Read more from Martin Matishak at The Hill

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Analysis & Political Strategy