- Associated Press - Monday, September 21, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas already has a former first lady and ex-governor in the White House race, but a state legislator who thinks there’s room for another homegrown candidate is urging Republican U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton to run.

State Rep. Charlie Collins of Fayetteville launched a website Monday to encourage Cotton to join an already crowded Republican presidential field. It’s a race that Cotton, who took office in January, hasn’t even floated as a possibility and has shown no signs of considering.

“The more I think about it and from other people I’ve talked with, I don’t know if there’s anybody who has the tremendous leadership skills of Tom Cotton and the sure footed resolute commitment to protecting America and American interests from evil dictators and terrorists,” Collins said.

The presidential race already includes former Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is seeking the GOP nomination. Democratic front runner Hillary Rodham Clinton was the state’s first lady for 12 years.

Cotton’s office did not immediately return a call and email seeking comment Monday morning. Collins said he’s urged the senator to consider a White House run before but said he didn’t tell Cotton beforehand he was setting up the site.

Cotton, an Army veteran who served one term representing south Arkansas in Congress, defeated two-term Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor in November. He has raised his national profile since taking office, primarily for his outspoken opposition to the Iran nuclear deal.

The website, www.callingcaptaincotton.com , includes a brief biography of Cotton and asks visitors to enter their email addresses and contact information.

The site isn’t the first time Republicans have floated the possibility of a Cotton presidential campaign. A new law enacted this year allows U.S. Senate and congressional candidates in Arkansas to appear on the ballot as presidential or vice presidential candidates. The lawmaker behind the move said it was aimed at allowing Cotton to run simultaneously for president and re-election in 2020 if he wanted to.

Cotton last month brushed aside questions about the move.

“We’ve got a whole presidential election in front of us,” he told reporters. “We don’t need to speculate about presidential elections that are years in the future.”

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Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ademillo

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