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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Hutchinson seeks job as Arkansas' next governor

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Asa Hutchinson
One week after Islamic terrorists executed the 9-1-1 attacks, then Attorney General John Ashcroft had a stern message for a group of upper level government officials, including one from Arkansas, in Washington, D.C."Gentlemen, the president of the United States has just told me that we must never let this happen to the American people again," Ashcroft said. "This is a burden I thought I would share with the rest of you."

One of those officials, Asa Hutchinson, the director of the Drug Enforcement Administration, spent the next three years shouldering the burdens of a wounded nation. He now aspires to be Arkansas' next governor.

Hutchinson spoke at a Republican rally May 20 inside the Sharp County Fairgrounds.

"I'm delighted to visit Sharp County," Hutchinson said. "This is an amazing time in national and Arkansas politics."There has been wide speculation that Hutchinson chose to run for governor because he was not selected as secretary of Homeland Security by President George Bush.

Hutchinson, a former three-term congressman from Bentonville, denies that notion.

"I told the White House two years ago that I intended to run for governor," Hutchinson said. "I was not disappointed by my non-appointment."

If elected governor, Hutchinson said, he would focus on limiting school consolidation, improving highways and developing technology use in the state.

"I received a good education in a small school and I know others do too," Hutchinson said. "In fact I know one kid who went to a small school and was elected to Congress and served the president of the United States."

He said he would also seek funds to expand Highway 62/412 into a four lane.

"It was one of my priorities in Congress and will be if I'm elected governor," Hutchinson said.

To receive his party's nomination, Hutchinson will have to defeat Lt. Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller in the primary election next spring.

Should he garner the nomination, Hutchinson would likely face Democratic Attorney General Mike Beebe in the general election later in the year.

Hutchinson said his tenure as the director of the DEA gives him a unique insight into a serious problem facing Arkansans, methamphetamines.

"We made it a national mission at the DEA to curtail methamphetamine manufacture and use," Hutchinson said. During his tenure as director of the DEA, Hutchinson said overall drug use by teen-agers fell 14 percent. He attributed part of that success to his tough stance against Mexican President Vincente Fox.

"I told him point blank that Mexico had to enforce tougher drug trafficking policies," Hutchinson said.

He said several months into his service as DEA director, terrorists toppled the World Trade Center Towers and changed the United States forever.

"This is our battle, our generation's great struggle," Hutchinson said. "I thank all of our brave men and women who are taking the fight to terrorists in their territory so they won't be encroaching on ours."

Hutchinson, whose brother Tim Hutchinson served as a U.S. senator from 1996 to 2002, said he considered running for the senate in 2002.

He opted not to run because of a promise he made to himself and the Bush administration, he said.

"My work to help fight the terrorists wasn't complete," Hutchinson said. "I consider my time in Washington, D.C., as my tour of duty."

In 2003 President Bush tabbed Hutchinson as the first under secretary of Homeland Security, over borders and transportation.

As the under secretary, Hutchinson said his agency instituted many policies to thwart future terror attacks."Are we safer today than we were? Yes," Hutchinson said. "But we're not completely safe yet."

When Tom Ridge resigned as Homeland Security secretary at the beginning of this year, Hutchinson was among a handful of candidates being considered for the cabinet post.After being passed over twice for the job by President Bush, Hutchinson resigned as under secretary of Homeland Security and returned to his native state.

Hutchinson said his campaign will officially begin in January. Until then he will be raising money, making appearances across the state and working at a security consulting firm in Little Rock.

"I still have to work," Hutchinson said. "Until I find a new job."

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