Washington, D.C.- During a lengthy discussion about foreign policy on Friday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) was confronted by Fred Boenig, a Pennsylvania man who described himself as a gold star dad before calling Cotton “the biggest hawk in Washington” and asking when combat in the Middle East will end.
The exchange began when Cotton asked Boenig about the 4 lapel pins he was wearing. “I’m a gold star dad and I have three more kids currently serving,” Boenig answered.
Boenig then said, “And I would consider you probably the biggest hawk in Washington, maybe Lindsey Graham, right? I mean, you’d admit that, right?”
As the attendees broke into laughter, Cotton responded that he believes in “strength in confidence,” a term that Boenig said reminds him of “someone knocking on my door again.” Boenig’s son died in Afghanistan in 2010.
Boenig asked Cotton to tell him how many days have passed since the last U.S. military combat zone death. Cotton did not give a direct answer.
Boenig, who told Cotton that the answer is 58 days, went on to ask “When do we get to hang the ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner, and when do I get my kids to come home safe again? That’s the only thing that matters to me.”
Cotton said that there is “no definitive answer because our enemies get a vote in this process. I’m deeply sorrowful for your loss and I greatly honor the service that all of your children have rendered like all of our veterans do, but in the end I think the best way to honor our veterans-“
“Is to have more killed?” Boenig interrupted.
“Is to win the wars in which they fought,” Cotton said.
Boenig went on to challenge Cotton about combat in Iraq and Iran as a means to prevent terror attacks in the United States, and noted that Cotton met with defense contractors the day after he wrote a letter to Iranian leaders warning that a nuclear deal with President Barack Obama could be revoked after Obama left office.
Watch the debate between Boenig and Cotton below: