Another Hat in the Ring: Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson Announces His Presidential Bid

Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson discusses his 2024 presidential bid with ABC News' Jonathan Karl - 4/2/23 (Credit: ABC News)

There’s another entrant into the 2024 Republican Presidential Sweepstakes: On Sunday, in an interview with ABC News, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced his presidential bid.


Hutchinson sat down with Jonathan Karl on ABC’s “This Week,” to lay out his case for a presidential run.

Some key excerpts from the interview:

KARL: When I spoke to you earlier this year, you said you were thinking about running for president. Have you made a decision? Are you running?

HUTCHINSON: I have made a decision. And my decision is, I’m going to run for president of the United States. While the formal announcement will be later in April, in Bentonville [Arkansas], I wanted to make clear that, to you, Jonathan, I am going to be running. And the reason, as I’ve traveled the country for six months, 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.

And that inspires me when I see everyday Americans just saying: Give us good leadership, give us common sense, consistent conservatism and optimism about our great country. And that inspires me. And I believe I can be that kind of leader for the people of America.

The 72-year-old Hutchinson served as Arkansas’ 46th governor for eight years before leaving office in early 2023 due to term limits. He was succeeded by Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Prior to his tenure as governor, Hutchinson served as an undersecretary in the Department of Homeland Security and a DEA administrator under President George W. Bush. Before that, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives for four years (1997 to 2001). He was the U.S. District Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas from 1982 to 1985.


During the interview, Karl asked a key question:

KARL: Now you’ve got a lot of experience. You’ve been a prosecutor, you’ve been a member of Congress, you’ve been a governor, you’ve been the director of the [US. Drug Enforcement Administration], but most people outside of Arkansas don’t know who you are. How do you break through?

HUTCHINSON: Well, a lot of hard work and good messaging, but I’ve spent some time in Iowa and I love the response that I get there. And so, it’s still about retail politics in many of these states. And also, this is one of the most unpredictable political environments that I’ve seen in my lifetime. And so my message of experience, of consistent conservatism, of hope for our future and solving problems that face Americans, I think that that resonates. And so I want to campaign and whenever I make the final announcement, I’ll be everywhere, and I think it’s a plan that can work in this environment.

Hutchinson is angling to distinguish himself from the current GOP frontrunner, former President Donald Trump, stating:

I’m not supportive of Donald Trump. I want to provide an alternative, but I’m happy if the voters make that decision and choice. I don’t support, I don’t like the idea of the charges, from what I’ve seen coming out of New York. But the process has got to work, and we’ve got to have respect for our criminal justice system, but also for the office of presidency.


Despite his tepid criticism of the New York charges, Hutchinson appears content to let the process play out.

KARL: Do you trust this process in New York? Do you think he can get a fair trial, a fair hearing in New York?

HUTCHINSON: Well, the important thing is that the grand jury found probable cause and that’s the standard for any criminal charges in our society and then the presumption of innocence follows you and then there’s a trial and the determination of guilt or innocence. That’s the American system. Thousands of people face that, some are found not guilty, some are found guilty, but it’s the American system and so we don’t — while we might disagree with what’s happening, we don’t want to erode confidence in our entire criminal justice system, simply because we don’t like the beginning parts of the case.

Hutchinson hasn’t exactly distinguished himself as a steadfast conservative. As Streiff noted regarding his stance on mask mandates during the COVID pandemic: Asa Hutchinson Folds Like a Cheap Suit to Preserve His ‘Reasonable Conservative’ Credentials. And regarding proposed legislation to protect children from harmful medical procedures in the name of affirmation?

Last week, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson vetoed a lightning-rod bill that would outlaw the use of hormone therapy, puberty blockers, and surgery to “affirm” the transgender identity of minors in the state of Arkansas. The Arkansas legislature acted to override the veto setting up an inevitable court fight.

In what has become a disturbing tendency among GOP establishment politicians, Hutchinson immediately ran to the Washington Post to engage in virtue signaling, see Why I vetoed my party’s bill restricting health care for transgender youth.


It appears Hutchinson’s going to have a narrow lane here — a very narrow one — for his anticipated run.


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