Update: Tom Cotton Responds to Mark Pryor's Comments on His Military Service

Update (March 6):
LITTLE ROCK, AR - A day after comments from Sen. Mark Pryor about the challenger in his reelection bid, Rep. Tom Cotton has some words of his own for the incumbent.

Cotton appeared today on Fox and Friends and responded to Pryor's statement that Cotton feels entitled to the senate seat.

Watch the video below to hear what Cotton had to say:

Meanwhile, Pryor sent us this response:
"Of course I’m grateful for Congressman Cotton's service, but this campaign is about two very different records in Congress and it’s Cotton’s irresponsible votes against Medicare, Social Security and affordable student loans that matter most to Arkansas voters. He can play misleading political gotcha games all he wants; I’ll keep working hard for veterans."

Original story (March 5):
LITTLE ROCK, AR - A national GOP group says comments made by U.S. Senator Mark Pryor, D-Arkansas, on the qualifications of his opponent are "offensive" to military members.

Pryor, a two-term Democrat in a tight reelection race, responded to a question from NBC News' Kasie Hunt on whether two tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan by his opponent, Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, was a qualification for the Senate.

"No. There's a lot of people in the Senate that didn't serve in the military," Pryor says.  "In the Senate we have all kinds of different people, all kinds of different folks who come from different backgrounds." 

"And I think that's part of this sense of entitlement, that he gives off, that almost is like, I served my country, therefore let me into the senate. That's not the way it works in Arkansas."

The National Republican Senatorial Committee called the comments "offensive" and the Arkansas GOP followed up with a news conference Wednesday characterizing the comments as "disgusting" to reporters.

Arkansas GOP Chairman Doyle Webb said Pryor should apologize.

"Military service is a great qualification for public service and a damn good one at that," Webb says.

A group of veterans addressed the remarks at the Pryor campaign headquarters on Wednesday afternoon.  Retired colonel Mike Ross says he did not view the comments as offensive.

"I think they're blowing this out of perspective here," Ross says.  "You know, I would love for this campaign to be all about veterans."

The idea of military service not being connected to qualification for a position isn't unique to Cotton either.

The freshman congressman made a similar remark shortly after taking office during the confirmation for U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

"Military experience shouldn't be the sole or primary qualification for Secretary of Defense," Cotton said in a press release in January 2013.

Webb dismissed the similarities Wednesday.

"Totally different words," Webb said before ending the news conference. "He said primary qualification."

The interview and comments by Pryor were made as part of a more than three minute recorded piece that aired on MSNBC on Wednesday for the segment "States of Play", which highlights key 2014 races.

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