A news release from 2nd District Republican Congressman Tim Griffin indicates that Johnny Rhoda, the 2nd District Republican chairman, had resigned his party position after his widely quoted remark that Hillary Clinton would “probably get shot at the state line” if she ran for president.
Rhoda, a church pastor and insurance agent, said later that he didn’t mean the remark in a threatening way and that it had been quoted “out of context” and “blown out of proportion.” David Catanese, the reporter who took down the quote, scoffed at Rhoda’s characterization that the remark was out of context.
Democrats jumped on Rhoda’s remark and demanded his resignation from the party. The critics included John Burkhalter, who’s opposing Griffin for lieutenant governor, who called on Griffin to denounce the remark and remove Rhoda from any position in his campaign.
Griffin responded that Rhoda, whom he’d touted (along with Rhoda’s bogus Ph.D. from “Belford University”) in a congressional campaign, said Rhoda was not working in this campaign, but elaborated on his remarks and indicated he’d departed the party post.
“The Democrat nominee for lieutenant governor should choose his words more carefully: Mr. Rhoda is not and never has been associated with our campaign for lieutenant governor, and his statement is obviously inappropriate, offensive and shows poor judgment.
“Mr. Rhoda’s decision to resign from his position with the Arkansas Republican Party is the right one for him, the Party and Arkansas.”
Griffin added “offensive” and “poor judgment” to his original statement yesterday that the remark was inappropriate.
I tried to reach Rhoda. A woman at his insurance office referred me to Holly Wilson at Arkansas Republican Party headquarters. (Rhoda’s wife, Linda, is a Republican state committee member from Van Buren County.) Wilson was not in, but I left a message. French Hill, the current GOP candidate for 2nd District, also has been silent on Rhoda’s remarks.
UPDATE: GOP Chair Doyle Webb sent a statement to Channel 4, though not to me. (Best I can tell I was the only Arkansas outlet to cover the event yesterday.)
“Moments ago I received the resignation of Johnny Rhoda as 2nd District Republican Chairman. He was apologetic for the statements he made to media yesterday and although he feels he was taken out of context, he knows that his statements have created an unnecessary distraction from the important issues before the State today. Johnny has been active in this Party for decades and all members of the Republican Party sincerely thank him for his service. I have accepted his resignation which is effective immediately.”
Talk of shooting a presidential candidate = “unnecessary distraction.’ They really do have that commandment never to speak ill of a fellow Republican, don’t they? Tip of the hat to Tim Griffin for stepping a little outside of that box.
UPDATE: Democratic Party Executive Director Candace Martin commented:
“It is absolutely despicable that Rhoda made these comments about our former Secretary of State and First Lady of Arkansas. Violent rhetoric is always unacceptable and the fact that Republican French Hill and RPA Chairman Doyle Webb haven’t denounced these comments shows a complete lack of responsibility.”