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Asa Hutchinson throws hat in the ring for 2024 election

By Sarah May
|
April 3, 2023

The latest addition to the 2024 presidential stakes, former Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said over the weekend that he is indeed throwing his hat into the ring, though a formal campaign launch will not occur until later in April, as Reuters reports.

Hutchinson made his declaration during an interview on ABC's This Week that aired Sunday, and he did not hold back when it comes to his take on the GOP field as it currently stands.

Hutchinson announces run

The former Arkansas governor was very clear with his intentions during the ABC appearance, stating, according to the Daily Mail, “I have made a decision, and my decision is I'm going to run for president of the United States.”

Hutchinson added, “While the formal announcement will be later in April, in Bentonville, I want to make it clear to you I am going to be running.”

Explaining the rationale for his decision, Hutchinson continued, “And the reason is, I've traveled the country for six months, I hear people talk about the leadership of our country. I'm convinced that people want leaders that appeal to the best of America and not simply appeal to our worst instincts.”

“I'm running because I believe that I am the right time for America, the right candidate for our country and its future,” Hutchinson also asserted.

Confronting Trump

In announcing his plans, Hutchinson made his thoughts known about the candidacy of former President Donald Trump, particularly in light of his indictment in New York on which he will be arraigned this week.

With regard to Trump's current situation, Hutchinson said, “I think it's a sad day for America that we have a former president that's indicted,” and when he was asked whether Trump should bow out of the race, the former governor said, “Well, he should, but at the same time, we know he's not,” as Reuters noted.

Those comments were not the first from Hutchinson slamming the former president, as he also weighed in late last year on the prospect of a Trump—Biden rematch in the upcoming cycle, as the Washington Examiner noted at the time.

“That's really the worst scenario. That's almost the scenario that Biden wishes for. And that's probably how he got elected the first time. It became, you know, a binary choice for the American people between the challenges that we saw in the Trump presidency, particularly the closing days, versus Biden, who he made it that choice.”

Political veteran

For his part, Hutchinson is no stranger to serving in government, having been governor of Arkansas from 2015 until earlier this year, when term limits paved the way for the election of Republican Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Between the years of 2003 and 2005, Hutchinson served as undersecretary for border and transportation security at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, a post to which he was appointed by then-President George W. Bush.

Hutchinson also served as the director of the Drug Enforcement Administration between the years of 2001 and 2003, and prior to that, he served as a member of Congress, representing residents of Arkansas' 3rd District from 1997 to 2001.

According to the Mail, Hutchison's political style is far more subdued than Trump's, with the former governor known more for his use of scholarly charts and graphs to get his points across than for engaging in heated rhetoric.

Courting controversy

In a move that ran afoul of a significant contingent of conservatives in his state and elsewhere, while still governor, Hutchinson made the controversial decision to veto legislation that would have banned so-called gender affirming treatment – including surgery – for transgender youth in Arkansas, as the Associated Press noted at the time.

That bill's language prohibited physicians from administering hormone treatments, puberty blocking drugs, and surgical interventions for anyone under the age of 18, something Hutchinson said would create “new standards of legislative interference with physicians and parents as they deal with some of the most complex and sensitive matters involving young people.”

Though the Arkansas legislature ultimately overrode Hutchinson's veto of the measure, its enforcement was halted pending the outcome of federal litigation, which remains unresolved.

The ability of Hutchinson to get a foothold in what is likely to be an increasingly crowded GOP field remains to be seen, given his limited name recognition outside of Arkansas and the barbs already leveled by Trump's Make America Great Again PAC, which, according to Reuters, referred to the former governor on Sunday as a “RINO” and opined, “Hutchinson's only fans are in the liberal media.”