Another Republican is hinting he is considering testing the 2024 presidential waters, regardless of whether former President Donald Trump runs.
Asa Hutchinson, a former Trump ally and the governor of Arkansas, said on Sunday he is considering entering the 2024 contest, despite every factor appearing to be against him. A handful of Republicans have shown signs they are willing to run against the former president, but none have announced their campaigns.
"You've got to get through, of course, this year. But that's an option that's on the table," Hutchinson told CNN’s Dana Bash on State of the Union on Sunday. "I've made it clear: I think we ought to have a different direction in the future.”
Hutchinson, who is term-limited as governor, also took a shot at the No. 2 most popular GOP candidate, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, for the way he has gone about fighting with Disney. DeSantis signed a bill revoking Disney’s self-governing status last month.
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Hutchinson pointed back to the Republican Party’s conservative roots, saying he doesn’t think the government should be “punitive against private businesses because we disagree with them.”
"To me, that's the old Republican principle of having restrained government,” he said. “Let's do the right thing — it's a fair debate about these special tax privileges — but let's not go after businesses and punish them because we disagree with what they said."
Hutchinson supported Trump in 2020 but has strayed from traditional GOP positions since then.
Hutchinson invoked the idea that conservatives need to “restrain ourselves” last year when he defended vetoing a bill that would ban medical sex transitions for children. And after signing a bill that mandated masks in his state, Hutchinson said in August, “I wish that had not become law.”
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Hutchinson is one of a handful of candidates who have hinted they will run whether Trump appears on the ballot or not.
Former Vice President Mike Pence appears to be gearing up for a run for the top office after Trump said the duo’s partnership was over.
Besides DeSantis and Pence, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Rep. Liz Cheney are also considered to be candidates who are willing to run against the former president.
If Hutchison decides to run, he has ground to make up, both in terms of appeasing voters who disapprove of his recent party-line bucking and in name recognition. In a recent McLaughlin poll, Hutchison’s name doesn’t appear on the list of politicians pollsters asked voters about.