LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Thursday he continues to support Donald Trump despite growing controversy over Trump’s treatment of women — a controversy ignited by a 2005 video and fueled by multiple female accusers who have come forward this week.
In the 11-year-old video, Trump is heard talking about impulsively kissing women and grabbing their crotches.
“And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the p — — ,” Trump says in the video.
The Republican presidential nominee has dismissed his comments as “locker room talk” and said he never acted on them, but several news organizations reported Wednesday and Thursday on women who claim Trump touched them inappropriately.
Asked by reporters Thursday whether he continues to support Trump, Hutchinson said, “I am troubled by all of the rhetoric. I am troubled by the statements that have been made by Donald Trump in terms of women in past decades.”
But Hutchinson said both Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who used a private email server to transmit government documents as secretary of state, are “flawed.”
“My evaluation is on the big picture items of where our economy goes, where we are in fighting ISIS, in terms of the Supreme Court,” he said.
Hutchinson was asked if there was anything that could make him withdraw his support for Trump, following the example of prominent Republicans such as Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
“You don’t know what the future holds, so I’m not going to comment on that. You just have to evaluate the campaign day by day,” he said. “I also think you could also ask the question for every candidate: Is there a deal breaker out there? How many emails have to be destroyed? How many investigations have to be concluded with question marks?”
Hutchinson noted that Trump was not his first or even second choice for his party’s nominee but said he supports the GOP ticket.
“You vote for a team,” he said.
Asked if he believes the actions Trump described would be sexual assault if they occurred, Hutchinson said they would, but he said the public will have to weigh the accusations against him.
“I think some of these are multiple decades old,” he said. “That does not necessarily make a difference. I think that you’ve got women that’s making complaints of sexual, inappropriate conduct on both sides of the fence, and you can ask the same question: Should Juanita Broaddrick be believed?”
In 1999 Broaddrick accused Bill Clinton of raping her in 1978 when he was Arkansas attorney general.
“As a person I take all of those allegations very seriously, but in the context of a political campaign it’s very muddy, and so the American people just have to decide those issues,” Hutchinson said.