Governor Asa Hutchinson on the Border and Covid

24 Sep 2021

BUCK: Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas. Mr. Governor, thank you for being on with us.

GOV. HUTCHINSON: Hey, it’s great to be with you today. Hope y’all are doing well.

BUCK: We’re doing fine. Thank you, sir. Let’s talk about the border here. I know you’re part of this group of governors who want some answers, and you’re there in Arkansas not far from where all this stuff is going on. Certainly, it really touches on all 50 states in different ways, the open border. So, tell me: What would you like to see happen here, and how does Arkansas play into it?

GOV. HUTCHINSON: Well, first of all, it’s amazing to have 26 governors join together in a letter to the president expressing concern about the border, and these are governors from Arizona all the way up to Massachusetts. And so it does impact our state because, one, we all look at this and we can’t have integrity in our border, in our immigration system without enforcing the law.

Secondly, the fentanyl, the drugs that come through the border impact each one of our states, certainly Arkansas being close there. And so we have sent our National Guard to the border to be supportive, and we want to continue to do that. The first thing the administration needs to do is to make sure that the Border Patrol is supported and not be critical of them.

CLAY: What do you think, Governor…? You know the importance and the impact of the bully pulpit that Joe Biden has and certainly that Kamala Harris has as well. When you see them falsely spreading the narrative that basically there was a whipping going on, they’re banning horses now in Del Rio over viral photographs which even the photographers themselves say don’t reference or reflect what has being alleged — how much are they failing the American public and the Border Patrol by spreading these falsehoods?

GOV. HUTCHINSON: Well, tremendously. And I’ve looked at the pictures, and people can make different judgments and maybe they’re not seeing everything; so it can… It’s fine to be reviewed. It should be reviewed. But first of all, you should not stop the Border Patrol from using horses from that’s an important part of their equipment, of their capability of protecting the border, and so that is common sense.

I was in the Bush administration in charge border security, and I know how important the Border Patrol is, and they need to have different technologies and the utilization of old technologies like horses in order to get the job done. And so, you don’t want to undermine their confidence. They’re working hard. They’re devoting themselves, putting themselves at risk, and you can’t have an administration that undermines them.

And so, I think it was a wrong message, again. We’ve got to be able to send a powerful message and reverse the trend that we’re seeing that basically this administration has encouraged those from other countries to come through our border illegally. That’s what has to stop.

BUCK: Speaking to Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas. Governor, how is…? We just talked to a friend of ours who follows the covid numbers generally very closely and just the overall trajectory of this pandemic. How is Arkansas doing? What are your expectations for your state over the next 60 to 90 days when it comes to covid, and what do you think about the reversal from the Biden administration on the CDC and the booster shots?

GOV. HUTCHINSON: Well, first of all, Arkansas was on the front end of the Delta variant. And so now our cases are going down. And our hospitalizations are going down, and so we are, hopefully, on the downward trend of the Delta variant. Now, this coronavirus has given us a curve every other day, and so we don’t know what the future holds; so you continue to take it seriously.

I believe in vaccinations. I’ve encouraged them across the state. Our vaccination rate is going up. But what we’ve seen from the CDC is confusing the messages. I applaud actually Dr. Walensky for not accepting the recommendation of the advisory committee but making an independent judgment that we can have our front-line medical workers go ahead and get the booster shot.

This was common sense. And what I’m disappointed in is that the FDA has not moved more quickly on some of this, has been inconsistent their messaging. Hopefully that can improve because these booster shots are important, and we do have those vaccines. We’re doing everything we can to get those out because I think that’s what’s gonna allow us to go to football games and do everything we want to this fall.

GOV. HUTCHINSON: (chuckles) Arkansas’s gonna squeak it through. Our team is up. Coach Pittman has done a remarkable job with them. That’s a difficult environment for us. The Jerry Jones’s stadium there, AT&T Stadium. We haven’t won lately there. But I think this year is different. So I’m optimistic about a win, but we know it’s gonna be a hard fought battle but we’ll be ready for it.

BUCK: Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, thanks for being with us, sir. We appreciate it.

GOV. HUTCHINSON: Always great to be with you. Thanks so much.

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