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Several top Arkansas Republican elected officials Tuesday criticized Donald Trump's attacks on the Mexican-American judge who is overseeing the Trump University lawsuit, while others declined to comment.

Democratic political candidates also condemned the Republican presidential candidate for making an issue of the Indiana-born judge's ancestral homeland.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued a written statement challenging Trump's stand.

"Criticizing and trying to disqualify a judge because of the judge's ethnic heritage is antithetical to everything that is true and good about America," he wrote.

In recent days, Trump has repeatedly criticized U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel's handling of a case that pits the New York businessman against former students who paid thousands of dollars to take real estate seminars that bore Trump's name.

In interviews, Trump said the judge, as the son of Mexican immigrants, might have a conflict of interest in the case because of his ethnicity. "He's a Mexican. We're building a wall between here and Mexico," Trump told CNN in one instance.

On Tuesday afternoon, Trump said his remarks had been "misconstrued."

But Hutchinson and other politicians who had heard the remarks said they were offensive.

"I must say from a personal standpoint that I have a daughter-in-law who is of Mexican heritage. She is a U.S. citizen and loves America. She should be valued because of who she is as a person and not judged because of where she was born," Hutchinson added.

While promising to support the Republican presidential nominee, Hutchinson said he would work to have that nominee reflect Republican principles, including "the essential American value of equal opportunity for all."

On Capitol Hill, Arkansas' lawmakers also expressed concern about Trump's rhetoric.

In an interview, U.S. Rep. Steve Womack said he strongly disagrees "with both the content and the tenor of Mr. Trump's" comments. Womack described Curiel as "a distinguished federal judge."

Arguing that a judge's ethnic heritage makes him unable to administer the laws impartially is "the very definition, in my judgment, of racism," Womack said. "That's not who we are. It's not who we need to be. And at a time when the Republican Party needs to be united and focused on the issues that go to the fundamental beliefs of our nation, this is certainly not a constructive step in that direction."

Asked whether Trump is a racist, Womack said, "Only Mr. Trump can answer that question."

Arkansas' U.S. Sen. John Boozman called Trump's statements "inappropriate" and "out of line."

"I certainly disagree with what he said," the Republican from Rogers said. "This particular gentleman is from Indiana. He's an American, and he's really a great example of the American story. He's somebody whose family came over here, and he's risen to the very top of his profession, so he's somebody that should be applauded in that regard."

Asked whether Trump is a racist, Boozman said: "I don't think that's the case. I just think that he was being himself and just popping off in regard to that particular [issue]."

Democrat Conner Eldridge, an attorney from Fayetteville who is challenging Boozman's re-election bid, called Trump's words "hateful" and "rhetoric that we should not tolerate."

"These comments are racist. They're offensive, and we don't need to tiptoe around them. We need to be very clear about that," he said.

Eldridge said Boozman has been slow to distance himself from Trump's statements.

"I believe the job of a U.S. senator is to be in front, to lead and to speak out. That's what Arkansans expect. And on issue after issue, Sen. Boozman is either silent or slow to the party, and that's unacceptable," he said.

In a written statement, U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman called Trump's comments "self-serving and inappropriate," but he said Trump would be a better president than Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

"It is my hope that this incident will be an isolated one but should it be necessary, I will continue to speak out against harmful rhetoric that diverts from the issues that are truly important in this race for the future of our country," the Republican from Hot Springs said.

Several of Westerman's colleagues in the all-Republican Arkansas delegation preferred to steer clear of the issue.

"He has no comment on that," a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton wrote.

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford's spokesman said he doubted the lawmaker would be reachable for comment.

U.S. Rep. French Hill would likely be unavailable for comment, a campaign spokesman said.

Hill's Democratic challenger, Dianne Curry, released a written statement saying she "condemns" Trump's statements.

She called on Hill to take a stand, as well.

"Demagogues can be found in both political parties, whether it's George Wallace in the Democratic or Donald Trump in the Republican. The mark of true leadership is defining the moment and saying those people are wrong," she said.

A Section on 06/08/2016

Print Headline: Some in state GOP slam Trump remarks

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  • BirdDogsRock
    June 8, 2016 at 7:15 a.m.

    Note to self: On the one clear and present issue that demands comment, Tom Cotton has no comment. The one time he should open his mouth, he has nothing to say. Or he is scared to say it. Yeah, Tom Cotton is some kinda bold, wise leader (sarcasm).... as much presidential material as the fella he should be commenting about right now.
    ~
    Meanwhile, I appreciate those few Arkansas Republicans who have finally spoken out against Trump's racism.

  • RobertBolt
    June 8, 2016 at 7:41 a.m.

    Hutchinson shamelessly continues to support for President a man whose statements he describes as "antithetical to everything that is true and good about America." What does this reveal as Hutchinson's priority: party or country? What does this say about all the Republicans using the same perverse calculation to arrive at the same shameful position?

  • hah406
    June 8, 2016 at 8:18 a.m.

    Cotton likes to remind us that he was an army officer, and how brave he was. Yet in this situation he, along with Hill and Crawford, reveals himself to be a complete moral coward. Trump's statements were the very definition of racism, yet Cotton is positioning himself to be remembered right next to Faubus and Wallace. If you don't speak out against it, I will assume that you agree with Trump.

  • NOTAGAIN
    June 8, 2016 at 8:21 a.m.

    Bird Dog and Boltar, I agree. What makes me scratch my head is the republicans that will step up and speak out against Donald, say they will support him for president anyway. Forget parties, this is for the PRESIDENT OF THE USA!!!! People this is Donald Trump. He is who he is. He will not change. This is it! He is "antithetical to everything that is true and good about America", as Boltar has quoted. American IS Great and has never been anything but. Wake up people!

  • finzleft
    June 8, 2016 at 8:50 a.m.

    We're missing a big point here! Remember that Trump will make America Great again! Just like he did with Trump University! And Trump Casinos! And Trump Airlines! And Trump Steaks! And Trump Vodka! The next time that you enjoy ANY of those things, think of how Trump can do the same with America!

  • hurricane46
    June 8, 2016 at 9:34 a.m.

    Of course Cotton-Boy had no comment, he agrees with Donnie, what an idiot.

  • RobertBolt
    June 8, 2016 at 9:42 a.m.

    I suspect Cotton is angling for a VP slot after the honorable candidates reject it.

  • mrcharles
    June 8, 2016 at 10:18 a.m.

    TRump is doing the Romney shuffle, say something in the morning and clarify it in the afternoon to mean something totally different---- here he is just being taken wrong about Federal Judge. I agree with his statement , he is definitely being taken wrong about , lets say everything except who is married to and his name.

    Tommy boy is being an outspoken patriot by remaining silent. He is afraid to embolden the enemy.

    Local repugnants , appear to condemn Herr Trump, but like a tree full of demented parrots, they just say the same mantra, well bad bad Herr Trump but of course Hillary is worse and we the lost in space party will make our lemmings proud by voting for someone who regularly incites political violence, is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist misogynists and birther { Uncle Joe says that sounds like the ship of fools repugnanst both locally and nationally].

    If trump back tracks on of his positions stated above he risk losing some of the southern heritage dixie vote. Not sure of his position on how he will restore slavery but it is probably to make America Great Again!

    come on trump & repugnants, double down , let the whole world know your ILKiness.

    He cant explain things away by saying he has lots of stupid friends, as he was only in Arkansas for a short time.

  • carpenterretired
    June 8, 2016 at 10:25 p.m.

    Perhaps ranger-paratrooper Tom's (yet to see what ranger or paratrooper battalion he was in ) refusal to make a comment is just professional courtesy among con men and frauds.

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