It has now been almost a week since national headlines took notice of the 2nd District Republican Chairman Jimmy Rhoda and his comments about Hillary Clinton. Rhoda stated that Hillary would "probably get shot at the state line." The comment not only made national headlines, but also resulted in Rhoda stepping down from his post, and a quick distancing by candidates and Republicans across the state. Nobody ever said politics is nice and in politics when you mess up, you can expect that those who once laughed with you and loved you will suddenly distance themselves and grow silent. It is simply the nature of the beast.
The two things Jimmy Rhoda did in the wake of this controversy though show a positive character for the man. First, he said his comments were taken out of context. Based on the press' ever growing desire to sell stories full of hype, it's easy to see how that is most likely true. Rhoda is not a man who would be hiding behind a bush at the state line with his sniper rifle to take shots at the former first lady, former senator, and former secretary of state. Remember, just because you're a former, or even a has-been, you were still once somebody within the government. The Secret Service is still concerned about your well-being, at least to an extent. So, Rhoda knows better and as stated before he would never believe shooting someone is the right thing to do. Jimmy would not likely ever take aim at anyone regardless of their political position. The man simply is not that type of person. He is the type of person who is vocal, quick to speak, and a strong supporter of the Republican party.
The second thing Jimmy did was back away. This is the most important move because it is the one that allows the Arkansas Republican Party to move forward. It also allows candidates to move forward without this cloud. Regardless of whether the comment was taken out of context, Jimmy recognized that it could hurt the party. Rather than fight to keep his position, he bowed out and went silent. He's not running to reporters to "fix" the story, he's not fighting the party to keep his post, and he's not calling candidates demanding they defend him. Jimmy Rhoda, whatever people may think from the press, is doing something that Republicans have seen time-and-time again…he's showing class in the face of bad press.
The bottom line is Jimmy Rhoda made a mistake. He tried to correct it and he stepped down from his post to help the party. That's class. A lot of people wanted Doyle Webb to condemn the statement by Rhoda and to even condemn the man. Webb read the resignation and accepted the resignation. Webb and Rhoda both know something that those who want condemnation, including the Arkansas Democratic Party, do not know. People make mistakes. People make mistakes, they take responsibility and apologize, accept the consequences, and finally they move on. Webb and Rhoda accept this as finished, and they are right for doing it.
Jimmy Rhoda has been an extremely valuable member of the Republican Party of Arkansas. I have no doubt that as time goes he will continue that support and work. He will not likely be the 2nd District Chairman again, but that's okay because we all can not be District Chairs or there would be nobody to work in the trenches. I personally applaud Rhoda and Webb for their handling of a difficult situation. I also have to wonder how different the outcome might have been if Rhoda had been a Democrat; however, we will not likely know that because negative statements from a Democrat do not gain as much press as those from a Republican.