Gov. Hutchinson reiterates support for Trump
Gov. Asa Hutchinson reiterated his support of Donald Trump the day after meeting with his party’s presumptive presidential nominee in Trump Tower.
“I’ve always said that I will support the nominee,” he said to reporters at the State Capitol on Wednesday. “He’s fought hard. He looks like he’s going to prevail in this, and he’s entitled to that recognition. I’m a team player. I want to be able to shape the team. I want to be able to block for the team. I want to be able to point out to the quarterback that he’s calling bad plays.”
Hutchinson met with Trump Tuesday along with Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey; Doug Ducey of Arizona; Bill Haslam of Tennessee; Mary Fallin of Oklahoma; and Phil Bryant of Mississippi. The meeting was set up by Haslam and was the first time Hutchinson had spent a substantive amount of time with Trump, Hutchinson said.
Gov. Bryant on Tuesday told Mississippi news outlets that he and the other governors “would serve as surrogates for the Trump campaign in their home states and would represent Trump at various campaign events,” according to NewsMS.com.
Hutchinson said Bryant “was speaking for himself there.” Asked if he would campaign for Trump, Hutchinson said, “In a serious vein, there’s a lot to be done here in Arkansas in the fall, but this election’s important, so we’re just going to take that a step at a time.”
He did say he would support Trump. He said the Republican would appoint Supreme Court justices who would give states more discretion and flexibility regarding environmental protections and health care.
“The framework that will take place under Mr. Trump is totally different than the framework that will take place under a President Clinton,” he said. “Elections are team efforts, and just because you don’t agree with the last play called by a quarterback doesn’t mean you’re going to stop blocking. …
“I have no doubt but that the team that I’ve aligned myself with for multiple decades is the one that I feel most comfortable with and will provide the best direction and security for the United States of America.”
Hutchinson said he expects Trump to carry Arkansas in November, but he will have to unify the party behind him. He said he was struck by the small size of Trump’s operation and that the candidate will have to “really gear up for the general election.” He said Trump does seem to listen to his advisors.
Hutchinson has expressed concerns about some of Trump’s comments in the past. Following the recent murder of 49 people at an Orlando gay nightclub by an ISIS sympathizer, Trump renewed his proposal to ban Muslim immigrants and said immigration should be prevented from countries with a history of terrorism.
Asked about that comment, Hutchinson, the former undersecretary for the Department of Homeland Security, said, “Having a background in homeland security as I do, you don’t have religious tests for people coming into our country, but it is appropriate to have closer scrutiny for those people that come from particular geographic regions that have a long history of terrorism.”
He added, “He’s got a long ways to go in being able to articulate this in exactly the right way, but I am convinced that he’ll be able to build a team around him that will be able to address terrorism effectively. I think his heart’s in the right direction. He knows we’ve got to do something. And I think he has the capacity to build the right team that will give him good answers.”
Hutchinson said he was “puzzled” by President Obama’s defense of his refusal to refer to “radical Islam” as a cause of terrorist attacks.
“Accuracy in language makes a difference, and ‘radical terrorism,’ ‘radical Islam’ is an appropriate terminology, and for him to poke fun at somebody because they want to use accurate terminology strikes me as very odd,” he said. “And it will be interesting to see the role that he plays in the future campaign, of whether it’s really advocating for Hillary Clinton or whether it is more trying to protect his own legacy.”