Last week, Asa Hutchinson, the Republican governor of Arkansas, said that running for president is “on the table” for 2024 — even if fellow Republican former President Donald Trump officially announces he is running again.
Hutchinson, who is term-limited, wants the U.S. has to move beyond the controversial Trump. He told CNN’s State of the Union, when asked if he was interested in a potential run at the White House:
“I am. But of course you’ve got to get through this year. That’s an option on the table.”
Hutchinson added that whatever Donald Trump decides to do “is not a factor in my decision-making process.”
“I’ve made it clear: I think we ought to have a different direction in the future. I think he did a lot of good things for our country, but we need to go a different direction.”
Several Republicans besides Trump and Hutchinson are weighing 2024 campaigns. Among the likely names are former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis, currently in a war Disney over the so-called “don’t say gay” bill, raised speculation that he might launch a 2024 campaign in recent weeks when he traveled to Nevada to campaign for Senate candidate Adam Laxalt.
Hutchinson took a shot at DeSantis for signing a bill stripping Disney of its special tax status, telling CNN:
“I don’t believe that government should be punitive against private businesses because we disagree with them. To me, that’s the old Republican principle of having restrained government.”
Trump took aim at Hutchinson last summer after he vetoed a bill banning gender reassignment treatments or surgery for minors, saying “Bye-bye Asa, that’s the end of him!,” continuing by referring to him as “lightweight” and a “RINO.”
Hutchinson recently attended the “Politics & Eggs” breakfast in New Hampshire partly because he’s considering a run, urging attendees that “as Republicans, let’s change things through ideas and through the process that we believe in and democracy. Let’s not use the state as a tool to punish businesses and those that make different decisions.”
Hutchinson continued, saying that “In 2022, we need leaders who are problem solvers and not simply chaos creators,” he said, without naming Trump specifically. When asked for example of what he meant by “chaos creator,” Hutchinson still didn’t say Trump’s name, but added, “Well, I think everybody knows. But whenever you’re looking at a primary, and if you’re basing the election on a personality or how hard they drive their message in terms of inflammatory language, to me, that helps create chaos and confusion.”