With Hillary Clinton having all but announced that she is running for president in 2016, the wingnut fringe has already started transitioning away from Obama hate and recycling the old Clinton hate from the 1990s. Now it looks like one of the ugliest aspects of the Obama hate has transferred to Hillary. Yesterday, a local Republican Party official in Arkansas was forced to resign after warning Hillary that she could get shot if she ever came back to her adopted home state.
Yesterday, U.S. News & World Report’s David Catanese had a chat with Johnny Rhoda, the Republican Party chairman in the state’s 2nd congressional district–essentially, Little Rock and its inner ring. Although Arkansas has cliff-dived to the right since Bill Clinton’s time, the Clinton name still means a lot in Arkansas. An April survey by Public Policy Polling showed Hillary ahead of every potential Republican candidate except Mike Huckabee. Against Huckabee, Hillary is practically tied–Huckabee is ahead of Hillary by three points, just inside the margin of error. But those numbers didn’t matter to Rhoda, who suggested there’s no love lost for Hillary. In fact, Rhoda said Hillary is so disliked in Arkansas that if she ever came back there, “she’d get shot at the state line.”
Within hours, Democrats both inside and outside of Arkansas harshly condemned Rhoda’s remarks. In the face of this criticism, Rhoda made the laughable claim that his remarks had been “taken out of context” and “blown out of proportion.”
Among the critics was John Burkhalter, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor. Burkhalter implied that his Republican challenger, Tim Griffin, who is giving up his 2nd District seat to run for lieutenant governor, had named Rhoda to a post in his lieutenant gubernatorial campaign. Rhoda had previously served as a county chairman for Griffin’s successful bid for Congress in 2010.
On Wednesday morning, Griffin issued a statement of his own denying that Rhoda was part of his current campaign, but also implied that Rhoda had resigned his post as 2nd District Republican chairman.
“The Democrat nominee for lieutenant governor should choose his words more carefully: Mr. Rhoda is not and never has been associated with our campaign for lieutenant governor, and his statement is obviously inappropriate, offensive and shows poor judgment. Mr. Rhoda’s decision to resign from his position with the Arkansas Republican Party is the right one for him, the Party and Arkansas.”
Later that morning, state Republican Party chairman Doyle Webb confirmed that Rhoda had indeed resigned. Webb said that while Rhoda maintained he had been taken out of context, he apologized for what had become “an unnecessary distraction.”
I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t seem to me that Rhoda really understands the seriousness of what he’s done. If he can say with a straight face that suggesting a presidential candidate could have a bullet put in her is just a “distraction,” it doesn’t say a whole lot about him–or for the party of personal responsibility.
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