Rep. Tom Cotton granted an interview to Hot Air, a right-wing blog (originally founded by Michelle Malkin to give you an idea) and touched on familiar themes — America great, Obamacare bad.

Cotton is a disciplined politician, if a bit robotic. Still, he only managed to make reference to Obama/Obamacare eight times. He’ll likely be aiming for more perseveration than that as the campaign drags on. 

On immigration, Cotton takes the Tea Party line.

HA: Give us a refreshing, one word, yes or no answer to a question which so many candidates refuse to do. Are illegal aliens criminals?

TC: Yes. It is a crime to enter the country unlawfully or to over-stay a lawful visa. We must enforce our immigration laws and secure our borders to regain the confidence of the American people.

HA: Follow-up to that question: New Jersey, among other states, is moving to give taxpayer funded educational benefits to so called “Dreamers” and other illegal aliens. What, if any, federal funding do you think should be spent on benefits for non-citizens who are in the country illegally?

TC: Regrettably, Washington has a history of putting benefits before immigration enforcement, which has too often meant enforcement doesn’t occur, as happened with the last major immigration overhaul in 1986. We must secure our borders and stop illegal immigration, for which welfare benefits can act as a magnet. Moreover, given our massive national debt, we should focus on helping American citizens and legal immigrants who are in need, not illegal immigrants and foreigners.

Meanwhile, asked a question about America’s sluggish economic recovery, Cotton responded with this: 

 They could start by passing any of the dozens of jobs bills passed by House Republicans. But these days, the U.S. Senate is where good ideas go to die. We also must repeal Obamacare, but the Senate has been unwilling to act on that either. They have even refused to make commonsense, bipartisan changes that would mitigate some of the damage this law is causing families, individuals, and employers. For example, the House just passed the Save American Workers Act to change the definition of full-time from 30 hours to 40 hours under Obamacare’s employer mandate. Even though the employer mandate has been delayed, it is still forcing employers to lay off workers and cut workers’ hours (which reduces their take-home pay). Yet Senate Democrats like Mark Pryor refuse to consider even the most basic of commonsense measures to improve the law. According to Senator Pryor, it’s such “an amazing success,” I guess his view is it doesn’t need improving.

That’s one sentence on jobs and a paragraph on Obamacare. One big question both in the Cotton campaign and in the Senate races nationally is whether this is going to work. Asked about the economy, Cotton’s response: Obamacare. All Obamacare all the time may well be Cotton’s best strategy in Arkansas. But polls show that Americans support most of the law’s provisions, don’t want to repeal the law and they’re tired of hearing about it. The law has thus far not turned out to be the train wreck that its opponents gleefully predicted. People are getting health insurance. In Arkansas, hundreds of thousands have gotten coverage because of the law (I think I hear Max screaming this from across the sea — thanks in part to the efforts of Cotton’s political director).

All that said, obviously Obamacare remains unpopular in Arkansas. But I can’t help but wonder what Pryor’s response would be to a similar question about the economy. I can’t help but wonder whether Cotton is overplaying his Obamacare hand. Republicans have taken it as an article of faith that the law will be such political gold for them come November that they merely have to repeat the magic word ad nauseum and be swept into office. We’ll see. I’d still say Cotton is the favorite (though the race is apparently closer than you might think), but he may be making an unforced error if voters want to hear about jobs and all Cotton has to offer is Obamacare repeal fantasies. 

The rest of the interview is here and includes Cotton on foreign policy, guns, and his own military service.