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story.lead_photo.caption U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton speaks Wednesday at the Democrat-Gazette office in Little Rock. - Photo by Jeff Mitchell

The U.S. should obviously buy Greenland, and anyone who doesn't see that is blinded by disdain for the president, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton said Wednesday.

Cotton, R-Arkansas, said he broached the topic with the Danish ambassador to the United States several months ago. He also recommended to President Donald Trump that he should try to buy the territory from Denmark.

Those conversations came before Trump ignited an international social-media kerfuffle Tuesday night when he took to Twitter to cancel a planned visit to Denmark because the Danish prime minister rebuffed discussions about a potential Greenland sale.

Cotton said that he probably wouldn't have canceled the trip and that the U.S. should continue exploring purchasing the Danish territory.

Cotton's comments came during an interview with Roby Brock of Talk Business and Politics at a luncheon in Little Rock on Wednesday afternoon.

"Why are we talking about buying Greenland?" Brock asked dryly.

"Obviously, the right decision for this country," Cotton replied. "There's a reason why -- so you're joking -- but I can reveal to you that several months ago I met with the Danish ambassador, and I proposed they sell Greenland to us.

"It's obviously the right decision for the United States, and anyone who can't see that is blinded by Trump derangement."

Greenland is a semiautonomous Arctic territory of Denmark. The island, which is about 50% larger in land area than Alaska, is situated between the Arctic and Atlantic oceans with a population of 56,000. About 80% of Greenland is covered by a 660,000-square-mile sheet of ice.

Cotton said that the territory's location makes it a vital component of the U.S. defense posture. There's good reason that Thule Air Force Base has remained operable in northern Greenland since the 1950s, he said.

[RELATED: Trump: Dane said no nastily » https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2019/aug/22/trump-dane-said-no-nastily-20190822/]

The territory also has "untold" economic potential in mineral wealth, Cotton said.

The melting of Greenland's ice is thought to possibly uncover oil and mineral resources. But no oil has yet been found in Greenland's waters, and the ice still covering most of the territory is too thick for exploration.

Even in coastal areas where drilling and exploration is possible, Greenland's harsh winters, which include frozen ports, around-the-clock darkness and sub-zero temperatures, make it difficult.

Cotton pointed several times to President Harry Truman's attempts to pry Greenland from the Danes. In 1946, the U.S. proposed to pay Denmark $100 million to buy Greenland.

Cotton said that the Danish ambassador was surprised when he brought the idea forward months ago.

"It may have been surprising to a lot of people last week to hear it in the news, but there's a reason why Harry Truman 70 years ago recognized this was an obvious advantage to the American people," he said.

Cotton also pointed to Chinese efforts in recent years to construct several military bases in Greenland. Those deals faltered after U.S. diplomats lobbied Denmark to shut down talks between Greenland and China.

Cotton also said that despite some recession fears, the U.S. economy remains "pretty strong." He criticized Democrats for their attitudes toward the economy in recent weeks.

"It's almost like they've been cheerleading for [a recession]," Cotton said. "It's understandable from their point. Politicians and pundits don't lose their jobs when there's a recession, but real, hardworking Americans do. People should remember what the last recession was like before they start rooting for another recession, even if it would benefit their electoral ambitions."

Cotton also said that he expects the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates once or twice more this year.

LOOKING AT 2020

Cotton made stops in Faulkner County before his lunchtime appearance in Little Rock.

First, he met with roughly 20 people at the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce building.

He portrayed his own party as vulnerable heading into next year's elections and portrayed the fate of Trump and Republican candidates as intertwined.

"I think the Senate is probably closer and more at risk than most people perceive," he told the audience. "If President Trump wins re-election, I think we'll hold the Senate. If he loses re-election, I think we'll be blade running."

Republicans currently hold 53 of 100 Senate seats. (Democrats and Democratically aligned independents hold the other 47.)

Thirty-four seats are scheduled to be up for grabs in 2020: 22 held by Republicans and 12 by Democrats.

While some Republican-held seats are in traditionally Republican states, others are in less friendly territory, Cotton noted.

"This is not me speaking out of school or sharing sensitive political information. In Colorado, [U.S. Sen.] Cory Gardner faces a very tough race. He's now the last Republican statewide official in a state that used to be fairly Republican, but in the last 10 years was trending away from the Republican Party. [U.S. Sen.] Martha McSally's going to have a tough race in Arizona," he said.

McSally, who narrowly lost a race for the U.S. Senate in 2018, was later appointed to fill a vacancy left by the resignation of U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, the late U.S. Sen. John McCain's brief replacement in the Senate.

Democrats, on the other hand, will be trying to hold onto U.S. Sen. Doug Jones' seat in Alabama, Cotton noted.

"That's pretty hostile terrain for the Democratic party these days," he added.

If Democrats win the White House and control both chambers on Capitol Hill, Republicans will be relying on filibusters to keep the majority party in check, Cotton said.

Earlier this month, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wrote an op-ed for The New York Times calling for the end of the filibuster.

Such a move, Cotton said, would have major consequences.

"If there's a Democratic president and a Democratic congress and a Democratic Senate, without a filibuster, you'll get 'Medicare for All' and you'll lose your private health insurance. One hundred and eighty million Americans have it and will lose it. You'll get the Green New Deal, which will impose staggering costs on every family and every business in our country, especially in this state. We'll lose our right-to-work law here in Arkansas."

After the Conway chamber meeting, Cotton stopped by the Conway Regional Health System and visited with health care professionals.

On Wednesday afternoon, he participated in an Arkansas Trucking Association Trade Roundtable at CalArk International in Little Rock.

In both cities, he discussed U.S. trade policy, expressing the hope that Congress would back the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a trade deal between the three countries that has been signed but not yet ratified.

Information for this article was contributed by staff members of The Associated Press.

Photo by AP/ALEX BRANDON
“All they had to do is say, ‘No, we’d rather not do that’ or ‘We’d rather not talk about it,’” President Donald Trump said Wednesday in response to Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s “nasty” comments on selling Greenland. “Don’t say, ‘What an absurd idea that is.’”

Metro on 08/22/2019

Print Headline: U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton backs buying Greenland, says he floated idea to Trump, Danish ambassador

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