Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he will run for president

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Sunday he plans to run for president in 2024. (Photo by John Sykes/Arkansas Advocate)

Asa Hutchinson, who served as Arkansas’ governor from 2015-2023, announced during a Sunday morning interview on ABC that he will run for the Republican nomination for president of the United of States.

Hutchinson, who has been a prominent critic of former President Donald Trump, has been weighing a  2024 White House run for months, visiting states with the first partisan primaries and raising money.

Hutchinson said that a formal campaign announcement will be made April 26 in Northwest Arkansas.

“I have made a decision, and my decision is I’m going to run for president of the United States,” Hutchinson told co-anchor Jonathan Karl on ABC’s “This Week.” “While the formal announcement will be later in April, in Bentonville, I want to make it clear to you, Jonathan, I am going to be running. And the reason is, I’ve traveled the country for six months, I hear people talk about the leadership of our country. I’m convinced that people want leaders that appeal to the best of America, and not simply appeal to our worst instincts.”

Hutchinson joins a field of GOP presidential candidates that includes Trump; Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina; and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is also expected to seek the Republican nomination, though he has not formally announced a campaign.

Hutchinson is widely viewed as a moderate Republican, but as governor, he signed into law one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the United States and oversaw some of the largest tax cuts in state history.

He also led the National Rifle Association’s initial School Shield Task Force that formed after the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting to make recommendations on school safety. Following the recent school shooting in Nashville, Hutchinson renewed his call for armed personnel in every school.

Prior to his election as governor in 2014, Hutchinson had been a U.S. congressman, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and undersecretary for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Border and Transportation Security Directorate.

The 72-year-old was a popular governor and overwhelmingly won reelection to a second term in 2018.

However, his relationship with more conservative members of the state Legislature and party grew more strained in the waning years of his administration due largely to his response to the COVID-19 pandemic and measured approach on many controversial social issues.

Hutchinson said in the Sunday morning interview that the current political environment is volatile, and elections in many of the early primary states are still about “retail politics.”

“So my message of experience, of consistent conservatism and hope for our future in solving problems that face Americans, I think that that resonates,” Hutchinson said.

He reiterated that he believes Trump — now facing criminal indictment — should drop out of the race. Hutchinson, a former federal prosecutor, has broken with many GOP leaders who have criticized the grand jury’s indictment as political.

The former governor has acknowledged that one of his biggest hurdles is name recognition.

“I don’t have the nationwide name identification that some others from larger states, who have larger megaphones,” Hutchinson told reporters in Iowa last week. “But that’s what’s good about Iowa. That’s what’s good about the opportunity to convey a consistent, conservative message and your vision for the future.”

He also said Americans need to stand up to “woke ideology” to create a better future, criticizing public investment strategies that avoid industries such as fossil fuels and opposing transgender athletes’ participation in women’s sports.

Hutchinson has been cautious to cast himself as an anti-Trump Republican, noting that he supported his two previous presidential bids.

“When I say ‘non-Trump’, I want to be able to speak to the Trump voters,” Hutchinson said on ABC. “I want to be able to speak to all of the party and say, ‘This is the leadership that I want to provide, and I think that we need to have border security. I think we need to have a strong America; we need to spend less at the federal level.’ These are the values that I represent.”

This story was originally published by Arkansas Advocate, which is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arkansas Advocate maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sonny Albarado for questions: [email protected]. Follow Arkansas Advocate on Facebook and Twitter.

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Hunter Field ǀ Arkansas Advocate
Hunter Field ǀ Arkansas Advocate

Hunter Field is a reporter for Arkansas Advocate. He is a veteran Arkansas journalist whose reporting on the state has carried him from military air strips in northwest Arkansas to soybean fields in the Arkansas delta. Most recently, he was the Democrat-Gazette's projects editor, leading the newspaper's investigative team. A Memphis native, he enjoys smoking barbecue, kayaking and fishing in his free time.