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Governor endorses reelection of Trump

by John Moritz | October 20, 2020 at 7:19 a.m.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson is shown in this file photo.

LITTLE ROCK -- Gov. Asa Hutchinson reiterated his support for President Donald Trump's reelection campaign Monday, saying he would vote for Trump despite misgivings about the president's "messaging" on the coronavirus pandemic.

"I'm voting for him because of all of the issues at stake, from the court to the regulatory environment to our economy," Hutchinson said Monday. "I believe whenever you look at this White House, they've done a good job in supporting the states in fighting covid from the antigen test resources we have to the daily support from the vice president's task force."

Hutchinson was named an honorary state chairman of Trump's reelection effort in November, when the president formally filed to run in the 2020 election in Arkansas.

Since the start of the pandemic a few months later, the governor has generally spoken in praise of the work of the White House Coronavirus Task Force led by Vice President Mike Pence, while at times chafing at comments Trump made to downplay the severity of the virus.

In July, Hutchinson confirmed he had joined a group of Republican governors who had taken to discussing coronavirus strategies during nighttime conference calls, without the participation of any members of Trump's administration or their Democratic colleagues. The New York Times first reported on the existence of the informal discussions.

Hutchinson didn't attend or record a videotaped a message for the Republican National Convention in August, saying he would stay in Arkansas to focus on the state's response to covid-19.

"Obviously, when it comes to the president's handling of the messaging, yeah, I'm not happy with some of his messaging," Hutchinson said Monday.

Hutchinson gave the example of the president's insistence on holding packed political rallies during the pandemic. The governor, who was speaking at an event Monday in support of Issue 1 on the ballot, noted attendees at the event were seated in chairs separated by 6 feet and everyone, including himself, was wearing a mask.

"There's no sense, I mean, he agrees we ought to wear a mask and he has set the example on a number of occasions," Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson also offered praise for Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and one of the administration's top experts on pandemics.

On Monday, Trump reportedly disparaged Fauci as a "disaster" in a conference call with his campaign staff, saying "people are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots," according to The Associated Press.

"Dr. Fauci is a part of his team," Hutchinson said. "Dr. Fauci is a part of the coronavirus task force led by the vice president and they've done an amazing job of helping the states manage through this."

Not all of Hutchinson's GOP counterparts in governor's offices remain committed to the president. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, all Republicans, have said they will not vote for Trump, according to local news reports. (None of those governors have pledged to vote for Democrat Joe Biden, either, and Hogan said he voted for deceased President Ronald Reagan.)

"I know those governors, they're friends of mine, they're from blue states, they've never been supportive of President Trump," Hutchinson said. "I'm going to be voting for President Trump."

Hutchinson said he plans to travel to his home in Rogers to cast his ballot during early voting either later this week or early next week.

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