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Republican governor says January 6 disqualifies Trump from presidency

By Sarah May on
 January 2, 2023

Rumored to be pondering a 2024 run for the White House, Arkansas' outgoing Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson opined over the weekend that the Jan. 6 unrest at the U.S. Capitol “disqualifies” former President Donald Trump from eligibility for their party's nomination in the upcoming cycle and that “alternatives” are necessary, as ABC News reports.

Hutchinson's observations were made during an appearance on ABC's This Week when he sat down with program co-host Jonathan Karl.

“He's had his opportunity”

As he is set to depart the job of Arkansas governor this month, Hutchinson is reportedly eyeing a national candidacy of his own, noting to Karl that he is planning a trip to Iowa, one of the nation's early primary states.

With his own political ambitions in mind, Hutchinson explained that he does not see a return to the Oval Office on the cards for Trump, suggesting that prior events necessarily preclude such an outcome.

“I do not believe that Donald Trump should be the next president of the United States. I think he's had his opportunity there,” Hutchinson began.

Specifying the main reason for his take on Trump's future, Hutchinson added, “I think Jan. 6 really disqualifies him for the future. And so, we move beyond that. And that's what I want to be focused on.”

“Different direction”

When Karl posed the possibility that, despite Hutchinson's opposition, Trump could indeed secure the GOP nomination, the soon-to-be-former governor was noncommittal about whether he would support the ticket.

“I want to see what the alternatives are. And it's premature, Jonathan, to get into what might happen in 2024. That issue will come up,” Hutchinson said. “But I want to see everything I can do to make sure there is the alternative and that Donald Trump is not the nominee of the party.”

Pressed as to whether he agrees with those in his party angling for a primary debate rule that would require candidates to pledge support for the eventual nominee, Hutchinson expressed his opposition.

“I think it would be a mistake to do that. I think it's obvious that you've got a divided party in the sense that you've got a base of loyal Trump supporters,” Hutchinson said. “But you've got what to me is even a larger majority of those that say, 'We want to go a different direction.'”

“[Trump] does not define the Republican Party. And we have to have other voices...It's an opportunity for other voices to rise that's going to be problem-solving, commonsense conservatives,” the governor added. “And they can shape the future of the Republican Party but also provide the right counterbalance to [President Joe] Biden's failed policies.”

Not alone

Hutchinson is not the only potential Republican presidential hopeful who has gone on the record with hopes that Trump does not claim the party's nomination in 2024, as NBC News noted in November.

Last month, former Vice President Mike Pence spoke with ABC's David Muir about the next presidential contest, his own plans for the future, and his take on Trump.

Suggesting that the former president ought not be in the forefront of the GOP going forward, Pence told Muir, “I think we'll have better choices in the future. The people of this country actually get along pretty well once you get out of politics, and I think they want to see their national leaders start to reflect that same compassion and generosity of spirit.”

“Donald Trump was the only candidate in 2016 who could've defeated Hillary Clinton. But I think different times call for different leadership,” Pence added.

Hinting at his own possible quest for the Oval Office amid a potentially crowded field, Pence said that he and his family “will be reflecting what our roles will be in that,” noting, “[w]e're giving it consideration in our house. Prayerful consideration.”

Trump undeterred

Not content to let the American people decide for themselves what Trump's political future should hold, as CBS News reported, separately, House Democrats last month introduced a bill that would legally prevent the former president from holding federal office again, citing the 14th Amendment's ban on those who have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” from assuming such roles.

Undeterred by the criticisms of fellow Republicans, by theatrical legislative proposals from Democrats, or recent criminal referrals from the House Select Committee probing Jan. 6, however, Trump – at least for now – appears committed to pushing ahead with his 2024 candidacy, and precisely how the final field will shake out, only time will tell.