Asa Hutchinson joins 2024 race for the White House

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 950 views 

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson officially launched his presidential campaign Wednesday (Aug. 26) with a campaign rally in downtown Bentonville.

Asa Hutchinson officially launched his presidential campaign Wednesday (April 26) in front of the Benton County Courthouse in downtown Bentonville.

In an ABC television interview earlier this month, the former Arkansas governor, mentioned as a possible candidate for nearly a year, declared that he would run for president in 2024. He spoke for 23 minutes at Wednesday’s rally in front of several hundred people. He framed the occasion as a time when the nation’s future and his personal story come together.

“Bentonville is a big part of my life story,” he said. “But, so is Gravette, where I grew up on a farm and learned the importance of family, faith, and community. I also learned hard work from my dad by cleaning out chicken houses and building fences. And my life story also includes Springdale, where I was inspired by teachers who pushed me to learn, and it was in Springdale where my political awareness began with the nation’s divide over the Vietnam War and the struggle for civil rights.”

Hutchinson, 72, was born in Bentonville, and his first law office was across the square from where he spoke Wednesday.

“I tried jury trials in this courthouse,” he said. “I built Bentonville’s first FM radio station. I served as Bentonville’s city attorney. And this is where Susan and I started our family and spent some of our happiest years living on 15 acres of rocks and hills west of town in a double-wide mobile home.

“On these steps, over 30 years ago, I announced my run for the United States Senate. Arkansas was a blue state at that time, and the Republican Party was almost non-existent. I stepped up to take on runaway federal spending; fight for a strong national defense; support the life of unborn children; and to unleash the private sector of our economy.

“In other words, I ran as a conservative Republican when being a Republican was like having a career-ending handicap. I continued to fight the establishment, and over time, we won.”

Hutchinson was elected Arkansas’ governor twice (2014, 2018) but was term-limited to seek office again. He is a former congressman, U.S. prosecuting attorney and also held positions in the George W. Bush administration. He is also a past chairman of the National Governors Association.

“From Congress to DEA to Homeland Security, I have served our country in times of crisis,” he said.

Hutchinson hopes his long-shot bid appeals to Republican voters ready to move on from Donald Trump’s polarizing politics. The former president lost his reelection bid to Joe Biden in 2020 and refused to accept the result, blaming the defeat on baseless election fraud claims. On Jan. 13, 2021, Trump was impeached following the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, becoming the only U.S. president to be impeached twice.

Trump is now facing more than 30 counts related to business fraud in an indictment this past March from a Manhattan grand jury. Still, he is mounting a comeback campaign in 2024, and most polling data shows him to be the favorite to win the GOP nomination.

Hutchinson is on a very short list of Republican Party officials who’ve been critical of Trump, saying the former president has “disqualified himself” from seeking the White House again.

“When a public official is indicted, I think with regard to the office, the office is more important than the person, and they should step aside,” Hutchinson said recently in a television interview on Fox Business. “That standard should apply here. It is a distraction. It is not a good day for America, but the system has to play out here, and we have to have confidence that it can.”

Hutchinson did not mention Trump in his remarks Wednesday, but he did hammer President Biden in several areas, including the economy, the military and crime.

“As a nation, we have proven resilient in our democracy, and we have endured through times of war and hardship,” Hutchinson said. “And I am confident we will even survive through the destructive policies of the Biden administration, but the time for change is now. It is time to bring out the best of America.”

Conservative radio host and commentator Larry Elder, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley are also seeking the GOP nomination. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is considered a contender but has not announced his candidacy. U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., launched an exploratory committee earlier this month.

President Biden announced Tuesday he is running for reelection.