Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) speaks to the media during a news conference on Capitol Hill, February 7, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson—Getty Images
Updated: May 5, 2017 9:44 AM ET | Originally published: May 5, 2017 7:43 AM EDT

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton doesn’t always agree with President Trump, but he says Republicans need to accept Trump’s changes to their party.

“You have to recognize that our party’s leadership was selling a product that wasn’t that popular,” Cotton told Politico.

“Donald Trump won, and he’s the president and everybody needs to accept that,” he continued.

He said he’s reflecting on what being a Republican means when Trump won without setting himself apart on the party’s signature issues, like tax reform. “What made him distinctive are issues like immigration, crime, trade, foreign policy and so forth. And the Republican Party as an institution needs to reflect on why he won those primaries and then why he didn’t just beat Hillary Clinton but beat her in places where Republicans had not won for decades,” Cotton said.

The young senator, who is often considered a GOP rising star and keeps two Abraham Lincoln books in his office, also explained how he sees Trump fitting into the historical arc of the Republican Party: “In some ways, I think, you could say that Donald Trump is resurrecting some of the tenets of the Republican Party of Lincoln and McKinley and Coolidge.”

Correction: The original photo caption for this story misstated the abbreviation for the state of Arkansas. It’s AR, not AK.

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