Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who’s weighing a run for the Republican presidential nomination, said Sunday that “more voices” in the 2024 race are “good for our party.”
Hutchinson made his remarks on News84Media’s “State of the Union” after a fellow former GOP governor, Maryland’s Larry Hogan, announced that he would not run for president because he did not want his candidacy to help Donald Trump nab the Republican nomination.
“Larry Hogan is a star. He’s governed well in Maryland, elected in a blue state. I think the fact that he indicates that he’s going to continue to fight in the Republican Party for alternatives to Donald Trump and a new direction is a good sign,” Hutchinson told News84Media’s Dana Bash.
“I actually think more voices right now in opposition or providing an alternative to Donald Trump is the best thing in the right direction. So, hats off to Larry for what he’s done, what he’s contributed. And I’m glad that he will continue to do so,” he added.
Hogan said in a statement Sunday that he wanted to avoid a “pileup” in the GOP primary that could result in Trump clearing the field and securing the nomination.
Hutchinson disagreed with that stance, telling News84Media that “this is not 2016” and that 2024 will be “different” because Trump is a “known quantity.” He also said that evangelical Christian voters “are convinced that we need to have a different type of leadership in the future.”
“In the early stages, multiple candidates that have an alternative vision to what the president has is good for our party, good for the debate, good for the upcoming debate that will be in August,” Hutchinson said.
“So, sure, that will narrow, and it will probably narrow fairly quickly. We need to have a lot of self-evaluation as you go along, but I think more voices now that provide alternative messages and problem-solving and ideas is good for our party,” he added.
Hutchinson told Bash he was troubled by Trump’s comments at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday that he can deliver conservatives “retribution” against Democrats and establishment Republicans.
“It’s troubling. First of all, if you want to heal our land, unite our country together, you don’t do it by appealing to the angry mob. And that’s true whether you’re talking about an angry mob from the left or the right,” Hutchinson said. “And when he talks about revenge, he’s talking about his personal vendettas, and that’s not healthy for America; it’s certainly not healthy for our party.”
Hutchinson was also asked about the Republican National Committee’s proposal for 2024 contenders to sign a pledge to back the party’s ultimate nominee in order to participate in primary debates. The former governor said the pledge should instead be a promise not to run as a third-party candidate if the candidate does not win the nomination. He did not directly say whether he’d sign the loyalty pledge but said he anticipates participating in the RNC debates if he’s a candidate.
Hutchinson, who has traveled to the early-voting states of Iowa and South Carolina, said April is when he’ll make his decision about whether he’d run for president.