Pryor touts bipartisan work for ROTC

Cameron Joseph

JONESBORO, ARK. — Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) touted his work with Arkansas Republicans to save Arkansas State University's Reserve Officers' Training Corps program at the organization's annual military ball, saying bipartisanship saved the group.

Pryor, who was being honored for his work to keep the Army from shuttering the program, said Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) was the reason it would continue.

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"I must give credit to Sen. Boozman who is my colleague and Congressman Crawford who is my colleague in the House from this area. We all worked together on this," Pryor said, surrounded by ROTC recruits and officers in their dress blues in a training facility dressed up to create a prom-like atmosphere. "We held their fight to the fire and we got the answers that we wanted."

"If we had more team efforts in Washington and a little less of a red jersey versus blue jersey [attitude], if everyone would put on a red, white and blue jersey and say 'hey, we're on the same team,' I think you'd see a lot better results in Washington," he continued.

Pryor has been pushing hard on his centrist, deal-making brand as he heads into a tough election against Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and the work to save the ROTC program plays well within his narrative. 

It also could help blunt Cotton's accusations that Pryor was criticizing Cotton's military service when he attacked him for "having a sense of entitlement" — a claim Cotton has been pushing in his latest ad, which features Cotton's former drill sergeant.

Pryor's work was celebrated by the group. Lt. Colonel Cecil Clark, the head of the ROTC chapter, presented Pryor with a plaque and said the work of the Arkansas delegation, along with strong backing from the university, was the reason the program would continue on.

"They really went and asked tough questions of the Army," he said. "About six months ago we were all concerned there wouldn't be an 80th anniversary."

Afterwards, Clark was less formal with his praise of Pryor and his congressional colleagues.

"They were like a pack of hungry pit bulls going after a hambone," he told The Hill with a grin.

 

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