Asa Hutchinson, former Arkansas governor and vocal Trump critic, may decide on presidential run by April
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson estimates he’ll make a decision within the next two months about whether he’s running for president.
“Probably April,” he told CBS News congressional correspondent Nikole Killion on “Red & Blue” Monday night. He noted that Iowa, the earliest state to weigh in on the Republican presidential candidates next year, will likely be holding candidate forums by July of this year.
Hutchinson said a deciding factor for him will be whether he continues “getting the response to the message that I bring.”
“Right now, it’s been very, very positive,” he told Killion. Voters, he believes, are “looking for someone that is not going to be creating chaos, but also has got the record of being a governor, of lowering taxes.” He also added, “we’re the number one pro-life state in Arkansas.”
He summed up his record as governor as one of “problem-solving” and not being “reactionary or vengeful or angry.”
“Whenever you look at a candidate that we might present, it’s got to be somebody that can attract independent voters and suburban voters,” he said. In 2022, “we missed that; we didn’t take advantage of that.”
Hutchinson feels he still has time to decide because the field has been slow to develop. So far, only former President Trump has declared his candidacy. Former Gov. Nikki Haley is expected to be the second Republican in the race, with plans to announce she’s running later this month, on Feb. 15.
The former Arkansas governor also predicted that at least early in the race, the field will be crowded, but “someone is going to catch on” after Iowa or New Hampshire, the earliest-voting states in the GOP nominating contest.
But Hutchinson has already weighed in on the most prominent candidate, the former president, and he did so again Monday.
“I do believe that he disqualified himself and should not serve our country again as a result of what happened” on Jan. 6, 2021, he said of Trump. “That’s my belief and conviction.”
But Hutchinson declined to offer a yes-or-no answer when asked if he would support Trump should he become the GOP nominee again. The Republican National Committee is still writing the rules for presidential debate participation, and he hinted that the party may be considering a loyalty oath.
In the 2016 election, the RNC asked Republican presidential candidates to sign a pledge that they wouldn’t run as an independent candidate if they lost the nomination. It was a move to try to keep Trump from running as a third-party candidate if he lost, but he ultimately won the nomination.
“I’m not giving you a definitive answer there, because … you know, the RNC is still looking at the rules for the debates,” Hutchinson said. “I don’t like a requirement for making pledges in advance.”
He did say that he didn’t believe Trump would win the nomination.
Nonetheless, he said, “Let’s just see how that develops as to what’s required by the RNC to participate.”
Grace Kazarian contributed to this report.
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