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Ark. Gov. Asa Hutchinson: Trump Faces 'A Challenge' In Uniting The Country

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

We're going to talk now about the election with one Republican whom I've checked in with throughout this election season. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson joins us now from the state capital, Little Rock. Welcome to the program.

ASA HUTCHINSON: Good to be with you again.

SIEGEL: This morning you tweeted (reading) not since 1980 have the American people spoken so clearly for change. I was there with Ronald Reagan, and I pray Mr. Trump unites and leads. Are you confident that Donald Trump will be able to unite?

HUTCHINSON: Well, it's going be a challenge for him. I was pleased with the graciousness of both Hillary Clinton's concession speech but also Donald Trump on election night. Both of them recognize the importance of coming together as a nation, and their remarks reflected that. President Obama I know will be committed to a smooth transition, and that's the essence. That's the brightness of American democracy and transition in power, so that's where we start.

SIEGEL: Yeah, but here's a hint of disunity. Donald Trump has said he'll name a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton. Do you expect he will, and should he?

HUTCHINSON: Well, that's a judgment that generally the next attorney general would make recommendations in regard to. You know, that's a matter that really needs to be looked at by the Department of Justice and review where we are, and that's what I would see as an important responsibility of the next attorney general to evaluate that. This is not the time probably to make those judgments. It should be made thoughtfully by the Department of Justice.

SIEGEL: How do you see a Trump administration proceeding on immigration? What do you expect to see when he takes office in January?

HUTCHINSON: Quite frankly, that's a big unknown. He has been very reasonable, very cautious in his most recent statements, not indicating he's going to have mass deportation but that he's going to target those that are criminal aliens, which is very similar to the policy that was in the Obama administration.

I think the big difference will not be on the immigration policy side as much as the enforcement side along our border. That's where his big commitment is - is a wall, is making Mexico pay for it.

SIEGEL: Yep.

HUTCHINSON: And I would assume that that's going to be something that, you know, his plan is going to be measured against his campaign promises. And obviously I think it's important to have some reason brought to that and some - and I think that will happen in a Trump administration.

SIEGEL: Yeah. Earlier this year, you described his words about a wall as frightening to you. I assume when you say you would expect some modification there, you mean you expect a climb down from actually building a wall and seeing to it that Mexico pays for it.

HUTCHINSON: You know, in terms of Mexico paying for it, I don't know how that works. We're anxious to see. I'm confident in Mr. Trump putting together a transition team that's going to have more concrete policies there.

And I will be a continued voice to say while we need to certainly enforce our law, protect our borders, we also need to have regard to how much it costs and have a good, positive relationship with our southern border and our northern border as well. We don't want to isolate the United States. We want to make sure that we continue to be a good partner with our neighbors and our allies.

SIEGEL: That's Governor Asa Hutchinson, a Republican of Arkansas. Thanks for talking with us once again.

HUTCHINSON: Great to be with you. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.