(CNSNews.com) – Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he’s not ready to announce a presidential run, but — “I’m going to Iowa later this month,” he told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.
He said his message is “problem-solving,” “healing,” and telling people “what we need to do as a country.”
“And we have to somehow figure out how to bring people together, both in our party, which is the biggest challenge for 2023, but also for our nation.
“I do think people are ready to be — for a healing time, in both politics but also in our — in our leadership that can work to solve the serious problems that face us from the border, to inflation, to the economy. These are issues that people care about and want leaders to address.”
The question that looms for Hutchinson and any other Republican running for office is how to deal with Donald Trump, who announced a third run for president six weeks ago.
“Well, I think you have to start him out as the front-runner, simply because he’s polling that well,” Hutchinson said:
“He’s the former president. But as I have said all through 2022, he does not define the Republican Party. And we have to have other voices. And, to me, that’s the key thing for the future.
“And whenever you look at what’s happened with Donald Trump since he announced that he’s going to run again for president is that you have continued chaos that has surrounded him. He has actually been fairly quiet.
“And so it’s – it’s an opportunity for other voices to rise that’s going to be problem-solving, common-sense conservatives. And they can shape the future of the Republican Party but also provide the right counterbalance to Biden’s failed policies. And, to me, that’s what we have to do in 2023.”
Host Jon Karl asked Hutchinson how a Republican can edge Trump out of the race in the primaries:
“Well, first of all, you have to get in there. You have to endure,” Hutchinson said.
“You have to realize it’s going to be a longer campaign most likely with a number of candidates in there. And then you have to also see that it’s different than 2016 when Donald Trump was new on the national scene.
“He was somebody that everybody liked. His anger, his — the chaos that he did create. And that’s not a new thing anymore. And so I think people move away from it rather than embrace it.”
Hutchinson said he’ll do everything he can to make sure that Trump is not the Republican presidential nominee. “I think he’s had his opportunity there. I think January 6th really disqualifies him for the future. And so we move beyond that. And that’s what I’m going to be focused on.”
And if Trump is the Republican nominee, would Hutchinson vote for him?
“Well, I want to see what the alternatives are,” the governor said. “And it’s premature to get into what might happen in 2024. That issue will come up. But I want to see everything I can do to make sure there is the alternative, and that Donald Trump is not the nominee of the party.
“That’s the first thing. And let’s figure out how to do that.”
Hutchinson said he opposes the idea floated by the Republican National Committee that any candidate taking part in a Republican presidential debate must commit to supporting the eventual nominee:
“Well, I think it would be a mistake to do that. You know, there’s – I mean I think it’s obvious that you’ve got a divided party in the sense that you’ve got a base of loyal Trump supporters, but you’ve got a — what to me is even a larger majority of those that say we want to go a different direction.
“And so let’s not put up obstacles to, one, unifying the party, but, secondly, given every chance that another candidate can have to showcase their skills and leadership capability, and to minimize the chance that Trump is going to be the eventual nominee simply because the rules are creating that kind of environment. I think you have to avoid that,” Hutchinson said.
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