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After President Donald Trump painted "both sides" as violent aggressors in a deadly white-nationalist attack in Virginia, several Arkansas Republicans said Wednesday that they expected better from the nation's chief executive.

The state's Democratic Party demanded an apology from Trump and called on GOP officials to do the same.

Womack, Griffin reaction

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack was appalled by what he saw in Charlottesville.

"There is no place for this kind of hate in our country. We need to come together as Americans. #Charlottesville," he tweeted on Saturday.

Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin released a written statement Wednesday calling racism and white supremacy "abhorrent and antithetical to the values that make our country great."

"It is incumbent upon leaders, in particular, to stand unequivocally and consistently against such hatred and division," he added.

The Republican Party of Arkansas, in a statement decrying racial bias, didn't mention the president. But two congressmen, the governor and the state Senate leader each took a critical tone.

"The president missed a window of opportunity to reject categorically the white supremacy groups that marched in Charlottesville and to name singularly their blame in the death and violence," said U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, a Republican from Jonesboro. "Had the White House handled the aftermath more bluntly and forthrightly, we probably wouldn't be having this conversation right now."

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U.S. Rep. French Hill, who has called white supremacist ideology "repugnant and un-American," said Trump "didn't do an effective job" at Tuesday's news conference in New York.

"He would've helped the country and helped our communities deal with this by standing by his earlier statement and calling for communities to come together and work out differences and reject ... the hate that we saw on display in Charlottesville," the Republican from Little Rock said.

Hill noted that his father-in-law had helped to liberate Jews from the Buchenwald concentration camp at the end of World War II.

"He bore witness to Nazi terror -- a terror that started with an ideology of hate and superiority based upon race and creed," Hill wrote on social media Sunday.

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Photos by The Associated Press

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Senate President Pro Tempore Jonathan Dismang of Searcy, both Republicans, spoke in forceful terms condemning the white nationalism on display at Charlottesville, and they said Trump's remarks fell short.

"I am grateful that he clearly denounced white supremacy in very clear terms," Hutchinson said in a statement. "But this is a moment that we need our leaders to take every opportunity to educate this generation about the pure evil of nazism and to bring our country together."

Dismang, who spoke with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette by phone, said he still supported the president's policies, but was "disappointed" by what Trump said Tuesday.

"I do not think that's becoming of the presidency," Dismang said.

Other Republicans who spoke Wednesday singled out white nationalists with harsh words, but did not mention Trump's comments that there are "two sides to a story."

U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, of Hot Springs, didn't discuss Trump's message, but he forcefully denounced the views that were on display in Charlottesville.

"Neo-Nazism and white supremacy are reprehensible belief systems that are steeped in hate and adorned with evil actions throughout history. The actions of people who ascribe to these belief systems are contrary to everything I've learned in my Christian faith and are an affront to basic morality and the underpinnings of America," he said.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, the new chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association, released a statement Wednesday saying the group's values are "entirely at odds with the views of the the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who spewed their hatred in Charlottesville this past weekend."

Her statement did not mention Trump, and she declined an interview through a spokesman. State Republican Party Chairman Doyle Webb was also unavailable for an interview.

U.S. Sen. John Boozman, who underwent heart surgery Tuesday, was unavailable for comment. So was U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, who was traveling back to the United States after meeting with U.S. allies in Montenegro and Albania.

On social media, Boozman had previously said, "Bigotry has no place in our society." Cotton on Sunday called the white supremacists "contemptible little men" who "do not speak for what is just, noble, and best about America. They ought to face what they would deny their fellow citizens: the full extent of the law."

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, a Republican from Rogers, hadn't watched Trump's news conference, spokesman Heather Neilson said.

A Section on 08/17/2017

Print Headline: Trump missed mark, some in state say

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Archived Comments

  • ArkCurmudgeon
    August 17, 2017 at 8:56 a.m.

    But there WAS violence on both sides. I hate what these idiot white supremacists and neo-Nazis are saying but, the "counter-protesters" appeared to have met the racist idiots with despicable behavior as well. I haven't heard anyone exempt Trump say that. Admittedly, I dislike defending Trump, who I do NOT like and do NOT want as president. Everyone needs to see the video of the young guy in the confederate uniform holding a flag and saluting while he is SURROUNDED by people screaming and appearing to bump up against him, holding the middle finger an inch or two from his face. The continued to scream at him, calling him a racist until a police officer convinced him to leave with him. One of the people harassing him followed him to the car, taunting him for needing a police escort. The police office turns and calmly said something like , "You want another Saturday, don't you? You should be ashamed." The other person said "No, you should the blood is on your hands." The guy holding the confederate flag wasn't shouting racist dogma or doing anything.

  • mrcharles
    August 17, 2017 at 9:27 a.m.

    yeah but , yeah but, yeah but, yeah but

    Wish everyone would have seen the crippled child praying & holding a confederate battle flag wearing a hood to keep the sun out of his eyes. Not sure but I heard that the child may have a terminal disease and die one day in the next 90 years . Sadly to report some of the left , which the rumor is they dont accept the trinity, ignored the child and while they did nothing to the child they ignored the child. Such behavior is despicable and shows there are 2 sides to this issue, though a rumor is that there is a 3rd side as proposed by theoretical physicists

    I too dont like Trump either as a human being , but perhaps the secret service should inquire into you, arkcum for not wanting him as president, but not sure David Duke who I heard did not scream at anybody, can run for office.

    Both sides huh? kinda reminds you of the nazi's and the look of the faces on the 82nd airborne when they were forced to kill nazis. Remember your POTUS said America is not so innocent, and he is still suffering at Fox news for that comment, I think.

    By the way was G-d on the side of the south? Would it be fair to say if he allowed the defenders of bible principals of slavery including the sexual favors of the masters to occur to be defeated by the North who thought G-d was on their side, then it was not on the south's side and the killers of soldiers of the United States of America fought against the wishes of the creator of the universe. Now that doesnt sound nice.

    Poor pigeons.

  • Packman
    August 17, 2017 at 10:02 a.m.

    At least Hill and Crawford are being somewhat consistent as in the past they've also criticized BH Obama for missing multiple opportunities to reject radical Islam. Glad to see tribalism getting kicked in the a$$.
    .
    As to President Trump's comments, he may have missed some ill-defined "opportunity" but nobody has contested that what he said was true. Violence WAS committed by both sides and thus far the evidence indicates in all instances but one it was instigated by the antifa and not the racists.
    .
    More and more it seems we should be deeply troubled by how the police handled the situation in Charlottesville. The evidence is showing the police not only stood by and let the participants beat on one another but directed the flow of traffic in a way to place the two sides directly into one another's path. It's almost as if someone thought it would be a good idea to let them literally fight it out and pick up the pieces afterwards. Aren't the police there to serve AND protect?

  • wildblueyonder
    August 17, 2017 at 10:09 a.m.

    Maybe we should let the distinguished congressmen make the statement next time. They're just courting votes by being critical.

  • NWAGrandma
    August 17, 2017 at 10:17 a.m.

    I'd like to remind everyone of an idea that has been around and quoted in one form or another for a long, long time, even before the Revolutionary War. But for today, I'll use Patrick Henry's words from the last speech he gave in March 1799: "Let us trust God, and our better judgment to set us right hereafter. United we stand, divided we fall. Let us not split into factions which must destroy that union upon which our existence hangs."

  • Foghorn
    August 17, 2017 at 11:34 a.m.

    moz - You constantly screech that you never post any falsehoods and invite others to challenge that claim. Well buckle the F up, you ignorant prick. EVERY WORD you just posted is false and further, inflammatory. None of it can be supported. If you feel differently, then post your f-ing sources. Someone died at that 'rally' and her blood is clearly on the hands of the nazis and fascists, like yourself; not those who opposed them. The police were in a completely lose lose situation. They couldn't 'control' anything lest someone scream (and sue the city) that his 1A rights were impeded. To suggest the police played a direct role as you did with your traffic claim is reprehensible. Shut the F up.

  • Foghorn
    August 17, 2017 at 11:37 a.m.

    I meant pack in my previous post, not moz. It's getting difficult to tell them apart.

  • obbie
    August 17, 2017 at 11:38 a.m.

    Facts and video show there was violence from both sides. The supremacists had a permit but the counter people didn't. Both sides came armed and prepared to fight. Both are at fault. The counter protesters should have gotten a permit if they didn't like the theme of the supremacists and had their own parade. A shame for all but Trump had spoken out against the KKK and others long before this event. Let's be fair and factual.

  • RBear
    August 17, 2017 at 12:11 p.m.

    Pack, you conveniently neglect to mention the fact the police and city wanted to hold these protests away from the crowded downtown area. Instead, they were hoping to have them at the fairgrounds where better crowd control could be put in place. It's much more expensive and difficult to do this in a downtown area as there are too many ingress and egress points to control.
    ...
    Instead, and I disagree with them on their position, the ACLU defended the white supremacists right to protest around the Lee statue and prevented the original permit from being revoked. Had the protest moved to the fairgrounds, we probably wouldn't have seen the problems that happened over the weekend.

  • Foghorn
    August 17, 2017 at 1:29 p.m.

    Maybe Lockwood can explain what in the sam hill Cotton is doing in Montenegro and Albania on the AR taxpayers' dime. Trade mission? What exactly would we be exporting that they don't already buy from Russia or Europe? How exactly does this trip benefit AR? I'm guessing not at all or Lockwood, as he is Cotton's paid boot licker, would already have written about it.

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