Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday said he was not going to try to “get into Donald Trump’s mind” to try and figure out recent comments the Republican candidate made that some critics say advocated violence to stop Hillary Clinton’s appointment of Supreme Court justices if she is elected president.
In response to a questions from reporters asking him to interpret Trump’s comment at a rally in Wilmington, N.C., that “Second Amendment could” thwart Mrs. Clinton’s selection of high court judges, Hutchinson carefully answered the question with a smile and measured tone.
“I can’t – I am not going to get into Donald Trump’s mind as to what he meant,” Hutchinson told reporters, laughing out loud. “I heard that statement and it simply says – it talks about elections; it conveys that ‘you ought to protect your Second Amendment,’ and then you need to make sure you go to the polls and vote. That is how you stop someone that is not having a high regard for your 2nd Amendment rights.”
Hutchinson added: “His style is different, his ways of expression is different than mine, but that’s how I took it.”
According to media reports from the Trump speech, the billionaire Republican presidential candidate repeated his frequent stump speech to Republican supporters in North Carolina that Clinton would abolish the right to bear arms if she became president.
“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Trump said to a booing crowd. “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”
Earlier in the brief back-and-forth with reporters, Hutchinson said the fallout from Trump’s remarks illustrates the scrutiny on every comment that presidential candidates make in the race to the White House.
“I personally did not see any implication, threat or encouragement to violence in that statement,” Hutchinson offered. “But obviously it is a statement that can be misconstrued and no one should be careless about their comments in terms of the safety of other candidates and how they are treated.”
However, it appears the U.S. Secret Service had some level of concern with Trump’s remarks. CNN and other news outlets were reporting Wednesday that the U.S. Secret Service confirmed talks with the Trump campaign about his remarks. Also, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who has said she will not vote for Trump, said she did not think Trump meant to incite violence, but that she understands the perception that he did because of his “stream of inappropriate and reckless comments.”
U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, French Hill, R-Little Rock, and Steve Womack, R-Rogers, declined to comment when asked by Talk Business & Politics about Trump’s remark. U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, have not responded to inquiries about the remark, and Talk Business & Politics was still working to contact the campaign of U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Conner Eldridge, who is challenging Boozman in the general election, issued this statement:
Donald Trump’s reference yesterday to individuals taking violent action against Hillary Clinton is astounding. This is no laughing matter, this is no joke. No one – in either political party – can sit idly by as this continues. We have an obligation to call this out for what it is: Trump continues to demonstrate that he is unfit to be President of the United States. This is not about party: If Donald Trump were a Democrat, I would say the same thing. Senator Boozman, how can you continue to go along with Donald Trump and this behavior? Where do you stand? We cannot enable this by being silent. We must stand up and speak out: Trump’s comments put America at risk. I am running for the United States Senate to stand up, to speak out, and to take on anyone in either party that is wrong. Now is not the time for a silent Senator, it is a time for leadership.