Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson: Donald Trump's 'Words Are Frightening'

Feb 24, 2016

Gov. Asa Hutchinson during an interview by phone with NPR Wednesday afternoon, as KUAR's Michael Hibblen records Hutchinson's end of the conversation.
Credit Governor's Office

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is calling Donald Trump’s words "frightening" and hopes his endorsement of Sen. Marco Rubio can help sway the tide in the Republican presidential primary in Arkansas. His pointed comments about the Republican front-runner came during an interview aired nationwide Wednesday during NPR’s All Things Considered.

Hutchinson agreed that Trump is doing remarkably well, "and he’s getting better in terms of being more disciplined in his approach, but I’m not sure anybody is clear where he is philosophically."

Hutchinson said he will support whoever becomes the Republican nominee, but doesn’t feel Trump is displaying the appropriate temperament. He said candidates need to "help educate the public as to what’s the right ideas, what is the right thing that we’re going to replace Obamacare with, what is the right direction for our country in terms of security, and these are serious discussions. They’re not salesmanship, there’s not a circus atmosphere. These are serious discussions as to really the free world."

Hutchinson told program host Robert Siegel that he doesn’t see Trump’s discussion of the issues as being serious.

"How you’re going to build a wall, how you’re going to have Mexico pay for it… what does this mean? Let’s be realistic in our discussions and how we discuss these issues with the American people."

The governor said he’s also concerned that Trump’s proposals concerning trade would hurt Arkansas in terms of job creation.

Hutchinson is a longtime Republican who has served in many positions, including in the U.S. House of Representatives, and as administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration and in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush. He believes party leaders didn’t realize the ability of Trump to tap into the anti-establishment feelings of this election cycle.

"Certainly it was underestimated the strength, we underestimated the frustration of the American voters and his long-lasting candidacy. So we’ll see if it’s not too late to change. I wanted to add my voice to it. That’s why I saw Marco Rubio as the right alternative and the right one that can win in November. I hope that voice makes a difference."

Hutchinson announced his endorsement Monday, one day after Rubio drew about 2,000 people to a rally in Little Rock. He said during Wednesday’s interview that he hopes Arkansas will be the first state that the Florida Senator wins outright.

Arkansas is getting increased attention heading into Tuesday’s primary.

All three of the leading Republican candidates, including Sen. Ted Cruz, are to return to the state for rallies this coming weekend. Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign also announced Wednesday that she will be making a campaign stop in Pine Bluff on Sunday. Specific details for many of the events have still not been announced.