Arkansas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross wasted no time at the end of his five-city announcement tour on Wednesday (April 17) laying into the GOP-led state legislature and taking shots at his primary opponent, former Lt. Governor Bill Halter.

Speaking to reporters at the state capitol at his Little Rock stop this evening, Ross spoke on a number of hot-button issues, including:

PARTISANSHIP
“We’ve had a history in Ark of Democrats and Republicans in Arkansas working together, and look, Arkansas is too small a state for us to turn it into a little Washington, D.C. down here. We need to work together. What I’ve seen happen in this session has just been overly partisan, overly divisive…”

“I think it [private option] was a good compromise. I’m not saying that everything in this legislature was bad. I think they handled some divisive social issues when they should have been focused on education and economic development and doing this private option.”

ABORTION, SOCIAL ISSUES
“They’ve spent well over half or two-thirds of this session debating the same social issues that divide so many people that we’ve been debating since the ’70′s that are largely going to be decided by the courts. It would make a little bit of sense if you proposed a 12-week abortion ban or a 20-week abortion ban, but to pass both, you know it was clearly so they could brag about it in their next campaign…”

“I think my message is pretty clear: Arkansas is not going to stand for these types of attacks on women, on families. Arkansas does not want to go back to the past, Arkansas wants to build on the foundation that Gov. Beebe has laid in the areas of education and economic development. And I’m the candidate that’s committed to doing that.”

HALTER’S SCHOLARSHIP PROPOSAL
“I think that it’s really nothing more than an empty promise. This is a guy who told us the lottery would bring in $100 million a year. It hasn’t. This is a guy who said that every child would get $20,000 in scholarship money and now I think it’s down to around $14,000 a year. And yet, somehow without raising taxes he says he’s going to find $50-$75 million in new money and do something that no other state in America has been able to do and that’s guarantee every child in Arkansas with a 2.5 grade point average a free college education. I’m not going to make promises I can’t keep because I’m planning on being the next Governor of this state.”

HEALTH CARE
“First of all, go look it up. There was no deciding vote, so that’s a lie. Everything they’re going to say about me for the next year and a half, you’re going to need to fact-check because it will probably be a lie, too. When you’re the frontrunner for Governor, you’re going to have the Republican Governors Association, the Republican Party of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, whoever else runs against Asa in the primary, Bill Halter, whoever else runs in the Democratic primary – they’re all going to be gunning for me. I knew that before I got in this race and I’m willing to take the hits because I believe in Arkansas and I believe in its people…”

“Look, that bill in committee occurred 8 months before Obamacare. That bill died in the Senate. The bill they’re talking about was 8 months before Obamacare was passed. There was never a deciding vote in committee. The bottom line is this: Obamacare passed the Senate, went straight to the House floor, never even went through the House Energy and Commerce committee and I voted no.”

Talk Business Arkansas blogger Jason Tolbert captured video of the Ross Q&A.