- Sen. Lindsey Graham referred to Sen. Tom Cotton as the “Steve King of the Senate” to paint him as a hardline opponent to a bipartisan immigration deal.
- Cotton responded on Tuesday by hitting Graham’s lack of success in the 2016 presidential campaign.
WASHINGTON – Sen. Tom Cotton on Friday lashed out at fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham for accusing him of being the “Steve King of the Senate” as a jab at taking hardline positions on immigration issues.
In an interview with MSNBC Friday morning, Graham chided Cotton for his positions on undocumented immigrants benefitting from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“All I can say is we’re not going to end family immigration for DACA,” Graham said. “The Tom Cotton approach has no viability here. You know, he’s become sort of the Steve King of the Senate.”
“I like Tom, but on immigration, he’s putting something on the table that there’s just no market for in Phase 1,” Graham added.
Later on Friday, Cotton responded to the South Carolina senator, telling a group of reporters on Capitol Hill that because Graham failed to win the Republican presidential primary in 2016, he is unqualified to lead the charge on immigration issues now.
“The difference between Steve King and Lindsey Graham is that Steve King can actually win an election in Iowa,” Cotton said. “Look, we had an election in 2016. Immigration was a major issue there and the American people and especially Republican primary voters made it clear that they wanted Donald Trump’s vision of immigration policy, not Lindsey Graham’s. He didn’t make it to the starting line and he didn’t even make it off the kiddie table in the debates.”
When asked how his positions would fare in the Senate, which has a considerable consensus that DACA recipients should be permitted some type of permanent status or pathway to citizenship, Cotton said, “When Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin agree on immigration, that’s not a bipartisan agreement.”
“They agree on the policy. Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin are not adversaries in negotiating. They are allies strategising,” Cotton said. “As I’ve said for years, there is no single issue on which the divide is not between the two parties, but between elites in Washington and the people across our country than immigration. It’s not just across the United States, it’s across the western world for that matter.”
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.