LITTLE ROCK — Presidential candidates, including Donald Trump, should be held accountable if they say things that are intolerant, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Friday.

LITTLE ROCK — Presidential candidates, including Donald Trump, should be held accountable if they say things that are intolerant, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Friday.


The governor made the comments during an appearance at Politico’s sixth annual State Solutions Conference in Washington, D.C., that was streamed live on the Internet. Other topics he addressed included health-care reform and medical marijuana.


An audience member asked Hutchinson why many Republican politicians dislike Trump despite his popularity with Republican voters.


"I believe words still mean something," Hutchinson said. "I’m held accountable for what I say — I will be held accountable for what I say today — and there shouldn’t be a separate standard for Mr. Trump or anyone else."


The person who is elected president will "try to do what they’ve said, so I think words have serious consequences," he said.


"I think that it is a concern if any candidate shows a lack of tolerance, if any candidate demonstrates a temperament that’s not going to help us elevate civil discourse in this nation," Hutchinson said.


Trump has been criticized — and cheered — on the campaign trail for comments about Mexican illegal immigrants, Muslims and other groups, as well as his use of four-letter words in speeches and verbal attacks on specific individuals. Hutchinson has criticized Trump publicly for his comments about Mexicans and for saying, in reference to Arizona Sen. and former POW John McCain, "I like people who weren’t captured."


Earlier in his remarks at the conference, Hutchinson said Trump’s domination of voters’ and the media’s attention and the public’s frustrations with Washington and the establishment have created an unprecedented dynamic.


"All of the criteria that we’ve used to evaluate candidates probably can be thrown out the window this year," he said.


Hutchinson previously supported former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and has not endorsed another candidate since Huckabee dropped out of the race.


"I may or may not announce any commitment in the presidential race," he said.


Hutchinson predicted that former Arkansas and U.S. first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will win Arkansas’ March 1 Democratic primary but will not carry Arkansas in the general election.


The governor also discussed his plans to modify the Medicaid expansion program that was established in Arkansas under the Affordable Care Act before he took office. He said he wants to change it from an entitlement program into "a program that is moving people up the economic ladder and that is not a permanent state but a matter of assistance to people to have work opportunities, to get trained —and to encourage employer-sponsored insurance."


Asked what he would like to see a Republican president do with the Affordable Care Act, Hutchinson answered, "Scrap it," but then clarified that what he objects to most are the mandates on individuals and businesses.


"I would like to see the federal government make sure that you have the types of reform in there that allow for (requiring insurers to cover people with) pre-existing conditions," he said. "You’ve got the exchanges … that are perhaps opportunities for individuals and businesses to access more affordable insurance. But at the same time you’ve got to take away those mandates that are part of it and then give the Medicaid budget to the states in terms of flexibility, in terms of a block grant."


As an example of the flexibility he wants, Hutchinson said, "I want to have work requirements, but I can’t. I can have a work-training referral in place."


An audience member asked Hutchinson where he stands on a proposed ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge recently approved the wording of the proposal, clearing the way for supporters to begin collecting signatures.


"I look to the American Medical Association and see what they say is what is needed and what is good medical practice and what patients need. Thus far, they have not said that smoking marijuana is necessary for patients’ health," Hutchinson said.