Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson went national on NPR yesterday with his fervent support for Donald Trump, the week Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate were decidedly cooler about the likely Republican presidential nominee.
Hutchinson opposed Trump in the primary, as did virtually every Republican elected official in the state. But he’s on board now, he made clear to Robert Siegel
SIEGEL: Over the months, we’ve heard you express support first for your fellow Arkansan Mike Huckabee when he dropped out for Marco Rubio. But each time you expressed some real reservations about Donald Trump, but since then, you’ve made your peace with supporting Mr. Trump. Why? What happened?
HUTCHINSON: Well, I always said that I would support the nominee of the party. And just because my quarterback didn’t get selected by the coach, I’m not going to stop blocking for the team. And I think it is important whenever you look at the contrast of Hillary Clinton and the – what she offers our country versus a Republican leadership team. The nominee of our party, which at this – is presumed to be Donald Trump – I think that’s the right team to support. That’s what I’ve always said I would.
SIEGEL: In previous interviews, you’ve told me you had real misgivings about Trump’s trade policy, his lack of seriousness in discussing issues, his divisiveness, what you called his frightening words about building a wall that Mexico will pay for. Are you now satisfied on all those counts?
HUTCHINSON: No. In fact, when I visited with Mr. Trump, I told him there are things I disagree with you, and I will continue to articulate differences as needed. But I’m convinced that this is the best opportunity to take our country in the right direction. I hope to use my influence to shape his policies and the direction he goes.
I hope, in terms of trade – and we do have some disagreements there – that this is a good negotiating position that he has, that he’ll – he’s reflecting – really what America’s concerned about is a tougher stance on trade. I don’t want to stop and build protectionism out there, but I certainly don’t mind tough negotiation with our trade partners.
And so it went. When Siegel brought up Trump’s social media use of imagery from a white supremacist group on social media, Hutchinson called this a distraction from “important issues.” He said he and Trump had stylistic differences, but then followed the Republican game plan of turning hard questions about Trump to Hillary Clinton. She’s the divisive one, Hutchinson said.