LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Social media was abuzz after last night’s Presidential debate. Even among Arkansas lawmakers, the feelings were mixed about one of the biggest exchanges of the night when moderator Chris Wallace asked President Donald Trump if he would denounce white supremacist groups and he replied, “Sure.”
He specifically mentioned the Proud Boys, a right-wing extremist group, “Proud Boys, stand down and stand by.”
His response drew mixed reactions among Arkansas lawmakers. Democrat State Representative Tippi McCollough said, “All he has to say is ‘I denounce, I do not support any white supremacist groups, that simple. Chris Wallace asked it in a simple, straightforward way and I think that’s all that had to be said.”
Republican State Senator Kim Hammer said, “We probably all said things that we wish we could’ve reclaimed and wished there were things we would’ve said that we let the moment pass us by. I’m looking more for the long haul then I am just what’s said in one debate or not said in one debate.”
The “sure” comment drew the ire of Democrat State Senator Greg Leding, “I know that when you go back and read the transcripts, as difficult as it is to read when Chris Wallace asked the President if he would be willing to specifically denounce white supremacists the President said ‘sure’ but I don’t take that as an explicit rebuke of white supremacy in this country.”
But Republican State Senator Scott Flippo interpreted it differently saying, “The President, two or three times, I believe Chris Wallace asked him that question and he said ‘sure’ each time he is happy to denounce white supremacy and racism and what he should’ve done is just said I denounce racism, period.”
Most lawmakers we spoke with agreed that the substance of both candidates was lost because the decorum was not quite what it normally is for a Presidential debate.
Senator Hammer on how Chris Wallace did the best he could moderating said, “He’s dealing with two strong personalities that want to get the last word in and when you have two strong personalities that want to get the last word in the conversation never stops because they’re afraid they won’t get that last word in
Representative McCollough kept her thoughts simple, “I don’t even want to insult kindergartners with what we saw last night.”
Lawmakers had concern that this debate would effect the viewership of future debates.
Senator Leding said, “But if it ends up being the way last night was I don’t know why anybody would want to tune in. It is so difficult to learn anything in those circumstances and I think, given the coverage, last night’s debate is getting, people talking about how awful it was to watch I would imagine that is going to depress the viewership for the next two debates
Senator Flippo said, “You always, historically going to see fewer people tune in to the next second debate as there was in the first debate so there’s a natural precedent for that.”