Republican Asa Hutchinson will enter the 2024 presidential race.
The former governor of Arkansas publicly confirmed he will seek the presidency on April 2, but noted a formal announcement will be made later in the month.
“I hear people talk about the leadership of our country, and I’m convinced that people want leaders that appeal to the best of America, and not simply appeal to our worst instincts,” Hutchinson said during an appearance on ABC.
The 72-year-old served as his state’s 46th governor between 2015 and 2023. A lawyer, Hutchinson was appointed to the US Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas in 1982 by President Ronald Reagan at the age of 31 – the youngest person to hold the position. Hutchinson was a member of federal congress between 1990 and 1995. During President George W. Bush’s administration, he led the Drug Enforcement Agency from August of 2001 to January 2003 and was the Under Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security where he oversaw border and transportation security.
Speculation that Hutchinson would run has circulated for years.
He told CNN on May 2, 2022 that a bid for the White House was “an option that’s on the table.”
“I think he did a lot of good things for our country, but we need to go a different direction,” Hutchinson said when asked about his ideological alignment with Trump. “And so that’s not a factor in my decision-making process.”
Hutchinson is the fourth Republican to enter the race. Tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and former governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley have already announced plans to challenge former president Donald Trump, who officially launched his second reelection campaign in November.
It is unclear how Hutchinson will fare given the current field competing for the Republican Party’s nomination. Susan Mulligan noted in US News & World Report that, “in an earlier era, Asa Hutchinson would be a natural contender for the White House.”
“Hutchinson … is turning his campaign negatives into an asset, hoping Iowans will give a second look at a guy whose traditional political career path is at odds with the unconventional turn his party has taken since Trump’s rise,” wrote Mulligan on March 30. “While Hutchinson does not have a Trumpian appeal, he also is one of the few potential contenders with no direct connection to Trump – freeing him from the drama that is growing around the former president… Hutchinson doesn’t get as aggressive as [Florida Governor Ron DeSantis] in the culture wars but casts himself as a more traditional Republican – for lower taxes, small government and restrictions on abortion.”
Hutchinson called Trump’s March 30 indictment a “sad day for America” as well as a “great distraction” – suggesting the criminal charges from New York County District Attorney Alvin Bragg might interfere with Trump’s ability to carry out presidential responsibilities.
“I do believe if we’re looking at the presidency and the future of our country, then we don’t need that distraction and he needs to be able to concentrate on the legal issues that he faces,” he said, per CNBC.
“It is a dark day for America when a former President is indicted on criminal charges. … We need to wait on the facts and for our American system of justice to work like it does for thousands of Americans every day,” Hutchinson cautioned on Twitter.
“It is essential that the decision on America’s next president be made at the ballot box and not in the court system,” he continued. “Donald Trump should not be the next President, but that should be decided by the voters.”