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GOP governor rips DeSantis’ ‘punitive approach’ toward Disney after parental rights dust-up

Amid an ongoing feud between Disney and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a fellow Republican governor from Arkansas weighed in on Sunday criticizing what he viewed as a “punitive approach to business.” 

“First of all, Disney has handled this very poorly,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson began, appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union.” He first criticized how Disney took a stance on new state parental rights legislation dubbed by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The bill prohibits classroom discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity for elementary schoolchildren from kindergarten to third grade. 

“Secondly, the law that was passed is, to me, common sense that in those grades, those lower grades, you shouldn’t be teaching sexual orientation and those matters that should not be covered in – at that age,” Hutchinson, who has served as the Republican governor of Arkansas since 2015, said. 


He quickly pivoted, however, to also adding blame to DeSantis for signing legislation last month stripping Walt Disney World of a decades-old special agreement that allowed the theme park to govern itself. 

Fireworks go off around Cinderella's castle during the grand opening ceremony for Walt Disney World's Fantasyland in Lake Buena Vista, Florida December 6, 2012.

“But I don’t believe that government should be punitive against private businesses because we disagree with them. That’s not the right approach either,” Hutchinson said. “And so, to me, that’s the old Republican principle of having a restrained government.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis appears with Republican Senate candidate from Nevada Adam Laxalt at a campaign event at Stoneys Rockin Country on April 27, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

“Let’s do the right thing,’ he said. “It’s a fair debate about these special tax privileges. I understand that debate. But let’s not go after businesses and punish them because we disagree with what they said.” 

CNN host Dana Bash pressed, “So DeSantis overstepped?” 

“Well, I disagree with it,” Hutchinson responded. “I disagree with a punitive approach to businesses.” 

After recently speaking at the Politics & Eggs event in New Hampshire, a traditional stop for presidential hopefuls, Hutchinson confirmed to CNN that he was mulling a presidential run in 2024, and that a potential scenario of former President Donald Trump entering the race would not sway his decision one way or the other. 

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