Donald Trump used multiple speakers from Arkansas — home of Bill Clinton — to drive home his core points against Hillary Clinton at last week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Governor Asa Hutchinson, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, and Sen. Tom Cotton all delivered addresses targeting President Barack Obama and, more prominently, the Clintons. A fourth Arkansas politician, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, was also scheduled to speak, but passed to appear on Fox News as a political contributor.
“Sometimes, Hillary Clinton has a New York accent,” Rutledge said during her convention speech. “Sometimes, an Arkansas accent. But y’all, this is what a real Arkansas woman sounds like.”
“Hillary may not know where she’s from, but Arkansans know exactly who she is,” she continued, before noting that she’s the first Republican woman elected as attorney general in Arkansas. “The very same office Bill Clinton held when those two launched their careers of corruption.”
She added that while the Clintons have made millions, she’s “still poor in all the ways that really count,” listing “poor judgment, poor policies and poor decisions.”
“That woman has more baggage than Chicago O’Hare,” she continued. “I broke a glass ceiling. I know the importance of doing so. But, a historical milestone need not come at the expense of America.”
Hutchinson railed on Clinton’s “judgment” during his address, outlining how her “radical” attempts at healthcare reform would have been worse than the Affordable Care Act while later speaking about the Benghazi terror attack and her use of a private email server as secretary of state. His only mention of Trump was one line where he said the Manhattan billionaire “represents a different kind of leadership” that is what “America needs right now.”
“Hillary Clinton’s bad judgment … resulted in instability in Egypt, Syria and Libya; the rise of ISIS; the resurgence of Russia; an emboldened North Korea; inappropriate ties between foreign governments and the Clinton Foundation; and a more dangerous world,” he said.
Darren Ray Waddles, an at-large delegate from Arkansas, told Business Insider that it made a ton of sense to have Arkansas politicians take aim at Clinton.
“If there’s any state in the nation that knows the Clinton’s best, it’s us,” he said. “We’re good at railing the Clintons just because we have the expertise in it.”
The negativity projected by Arkansans and others at the convention, however, might not match up with the attitudes of many in the state.
Conner Eldridge, the Democratic Senate nominee in Arkansas challenging Sen. John Boozman, said people he speaks with in the state are “fed up” with what they have been hearing in the presidential race.
“And I found this week that folks, despite the Arkansas politicians that spoke, people are fed up with the rhetoric and the hate and the anger that is exuding from politics right now,” he said. “Folks are really not happy with anything in presidential politics.”
He added that voters he met with who watched the convention said they just heard a “bunch of rhetoric” without hearing “legitimate solutions.”
“I think that is the dominant feeling in Arkansas,” he said. “And it’s a mistake to read a sort of choreographed speech as something different than what I’m hearing in small towns across our state.”
But, he said, there was one area that was heavily focused on during the convention — although not by his fellow Arkansans — law enforcement.
Eldridge, the former US attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, said he didn’t agree with everything said, adding that he wished “stuff they’d say would go through a fact-checker before they said it.”
“They went through all of these statistics on homicide rates and on a variety of criminal indicators,” he said. “When you dig into that, they were slanted, and that’s just not right.”
In Trump’s speech alone, Quartz reported that Trump “massively distorted” crime statistics, including homicide rates in major cities, the number of police officers killed in the line of duty, and on immigrants in the country illegally who have committed crimes.
“The fact is we need to have a broad discussion about what we do about crime in our communities. It’s not easy to just stand up there and demagogue and say ‘oh, this is so and so’s fault. Trust me, I’m going to fix it.’ That’s not really a solution.”
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