Asa Hutchinson

At a Southeast Arkansas TEA Party meeting Monday night, Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson lauded the organization for its support for lower taxes, smaller government and loyalty to the Constitution.

“I have been the Chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party and helped build the party in the state,” he said. “When we have another party that comes along that is citizen-driven and supports fewer taxes, smaller government and the Constitution; you know it will help politics in general. The TEA Party helps get good, conservative candidates elected.”

Contrasting his conservative views with those of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross, Hutchinson told the group that Ross has said lowering income taxes in Arkansas can’t be done because it would cause the release of criminals from prisons which would endanger the people in Arkansas. “But ‘can’t be done’ won’t get anything done,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson also told the group that Ross voted Obamacare out of committee, allowing Congress to vote on it. “I was opposed to Obamacare at the time that Mike Ross voted it out of committee so it could be voted on by Congress,” he said. “I urged the Governor and others in the Arkansas Legislature to oppose Obamacare.”

Hutchinson said he was born and raised on a small farm in a small town where he learned the value of hard work, taking responsibility for his actions, and faith in God. He said he also learned the importance of giving back to the community; and one way to do that is through politics where a person can help to make things better for his town, state or country.

In 1982, Hutchinson became the youngest U.S. Attorney in the country when Republican President Ronald Reagan appointed the then-31-year-old to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas. Hutchinson served in the U.S. House of Representatives and went on to head the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. He was also the first under-secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under Republican President George W. Bush.

“That was a tough job,” Hutchinson said referring to the Homeland Security post, “but it was a privilege to be with the president when he was briefed by the CIA and having the president turn to me and say, ‘Asa, what are we doing about that?’”

He said it was an extraordinary time in history, but it was the hardest year of his life.

While in Congress, he said he had the opportunity to help balance the budget by voting for lower taxes. Because of the lower taxes, he said, the private economy grew and a balanced budget followed.

“I want to do the same for Arkansas,” he said. “I want to spur growth in the economy and bring jobs to South Arkansas. The private economy needs to grow. The economies of our neighboring states with lower or no state income taxes are growing faster than that of Arkansas because of our seven percent state income tax. This holds us back, and we lose opportunities to attract industry and jobs. I want to gradually decrease our state income tax to grow the economy of Arkansas.”

Hutchinson said he is dedicated to bringing industry and jobs to Arkansas through lower taxes and tort reform.

Hutchinson, who led a National Rifle Association program to develop a model security plan for schools following the shooting rampage at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, is opposed to gun control.

“The answer is not gun control and suppression of our Second Amendment rights,” he said, “it is to have resources in place like armed security officers or trained and armed personnel in schools to protect children. We need a common sense approach to protection and firearms at schools, and the methods of security should be left up to the individual school districts.”

Outlining his views on education, Hutchinson said he supports free choice. He said he and his wife tried private schools, public schools and home schooling their children. “The reason we tried it all was because every child had different needs,” he said.

Hutchinson said federal government needs to stay out of education in Arkansas and would say “no” to any federal funding if it meant the federal government would have control of Arkansas schools.

He believes it is important that schools provide high school students with both a college path and technical work path. “Our education system not only needs a college path for students, but we also need a technical or work path for those students who wish to learn a trade,” he said. “They need courses in high school that will enable them to follow that path.”

Regarding the Common Core curriculum, Hutchinson said if elected he will closely examine those standards to be sure they are working correctly for the students in Arkansas.

A proponent of border security and “protecting Arkansas from the overreach” of federal government, Hutchinson said he can and will be a strong advocate for Arkansas with agencies such as the EPA, Homeland Security and others. “I have been engaged in many security issues, and I can be a good spokesman for Arkansas,” he said.