INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Eric Holcomb avoided criticizing President Donald Trump for his role in the Capitol riot in a yearly wrap-up interview Thursday with the Journal Gazette.
He also talked about regrets from a trying 2020 dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Holcomb said he watched more television Wednesday night than he has all year – taking in the graphic images of a protest gone wrong.
“I don't like to get involved in the blame game,” he said when directly asked about Trump's culpability. “There are different moments where society seems to unravel or flare up or act out or cross the line, and it happened yesterday for multiple reasons.”
Holcomb said every single elected official who had any role in it is responsible for their actions, and to “pull out one comment or action or one tweet or one person I think misses what's going on in totality.”
He said the breaching of the Capitol is a stain on American history, but he hopes it is a wakeup call and leads to a more positive way to “conduct our affairs.”
Holcomb also said he would like the Republican Party to “be judged on our actions and results and courage more so than our rhetoric.”
Some of the interview focused on a harrowing 2020 that ended with a strong re-election showing.
His first response to a question on regrets was “I would have wore a mask in Brown County when I picked up my food. For sure. Haven't made that mistake twice.”
Early in the pandemic, Holcomb was caught unmasked and within 6 feet of a person with whom he posed for a selfie.
But the governor said more than anything, he wishes he could have figured out a way to get through to people resistant to masks or other practices to lessen the impact of the virus.
“I constantly think ... how could I personally and professionally do a better job of trying to be persuasive about the things we know will help the collective good during a time when it seems to be in vogue to be in protest,” Holcomb said.
The governor noted that state law sets capacity limits for businesses every day under fire codes, but he said doing so for COVID was unacceptable for some reason. Holcomb said some folks remain in denial about how easily transmitted the virus is.
“How can I appeal to them so that they understand what we are trying to do is get to the point where we don't have to wear a mask and get to the point where we have this under control?” he said. “For one reason or another, I feel like I've come up short.”
There is a tension between fatigue and impatience, Holcomb said.
“I just hope that with the vigilance and the vaccine, we are basking in the light, not just looking at it at the end of the tunnel, in a few months,” Holcomb said.