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Backers Want To See Trump Reelected To Serve Another 4 Years


Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson joins us next. He's been the United States attorney, federal homeland security official and was a speaker at the 2016 Republican convention as a governor. And, Governor, welcome back to this program.

ASA HUTCHINSON: Great to be with you again, Steve.

INSKEEP: In the 2016 convention in your speech, you called the then-candidate Donald Trump transparent and straight-talking. After almost four years of him in power, would you still say that?

HUTCHINSON: Without any question. People - that's what people like about Donald Trump is you don't have to listen very long to know exactly what he's thinking and where he is. That has been a very positive thing with American people. But it's also been distracting because when you say exactly what's on your mind, it's not through a filter, necessarily. But he has done that. We knew that he was going to be that way when he was nominated. And he has fulfilled that. He's been very straight spoken with the American people.

INSKEEP: Can I ask about that, Governor, because as you know, many people will be hearing that and be baffled? It's certainly true the president says just what he thinks at any given moment. But it's just a statement of fact that it changes from moment to moment. If we just look at the pandemic, he's constantly misstated science, disagreed with science, contradicted himself on basic issues like mask-wearing, promoted false conspiracies. Just the other day, he was speaking warmly of the QAnon conspiracy theory people. Has he been straight-talking on those issues?

HUTCHINSON: Well, and that's the downside. I mean, a president needs to think through what he says because that has implications. It has the force of a president of the United States versus a candidate. And - but people understand exactly who he is and how he operates. And so in some ways, that - whenever - it's like a dinner conversation where people are just giving stream of consciousness as to what they're thinking. And he's done that from time to time. And people give a lot of latitude to him because of that.

That, to me, is not the best characteristic of the presidency. But it is who Donald Trump is. And there's a lot of people that love him because of that straightforwardness. Obviously, I think that you have to be somewhat constrained. But the reason I have - I support Donald Trump is not because he speaks in an unfiltered way, but because of what his team and what they have accomplished over the last four years. Then he'll be a big difference for the next four years.

INSKEEP: Well, let's talk about the next four years. What did you think of the party deciding to do without any new platform, sticking with the 2016 version?

HUTCHINSON: Well, I think that's fine because 2016 was a Donald Trump platform. And so it's the same message that they have. If you look at the Democrat platform, you have Joe Biden basically letting, you know, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Warren write that platform, which is very left. Maybe it indicates exactly where they're going. But Trump's up for reelection. And so the fact that he has the same platform as four years ago, I think that's more than fine and will work for him.

INSKEEP: I just got a - forgive me, Governor. I just got a note. If we look at big issues like, for example, Medicare for All, Bernie Sanders wanted that. Joe Biden doesn't want that. So Biden's platform would not be the same. But let me just ask about 2016, do - and 2020. Do you have clear in your mind one thing the president would do if he were reelected?

HUTCHINSON: Well, I do. But that's very important what you're asking. And that is that's what he needs to accomplish in this week, both to show the differences between him and the Democratic leadership and Joe Biden as president and the direction he will take this country. I think we understand it based upon his performance over the last four years. But he needs to fill in the blank. He needs to paint that vision. And I think that will be one of the strategies for this week.

INSKEEP: Gov. Hutchinson, it's always a pleasure talking with you. Thank you so much for joining us once again.

HUTCHINSON: All right. Thank you.

INSKEEP: That's Asa Hutchinson, the Republican governor of Arkansas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.