Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson formally launched his bid for the Republican presidential nomination Wednesday in his home state, touting his long career in public service and a commonsense conservative approach to the economy, crime and border security.
“In this campaign for president, I stand alone in terms of my experience, track record and leadership,” Hutchinson said, according to a copy of his prepared remarks. “This campaign is about courage. It’s about making tough decisions to rebuild our economy; give peace a chance through the strength of the United States and renew the American spirit of freedom.”
Hutchinson, 72, did not mention former President Donald Trump or any of his other stated or potential opponents in his comments, sticking mostly to kitchen table topics and moving away from the GOP culture wars. Hutchinson has said before that Trump, who is embroiled in legal trouble over a secret money payment to a porn actor, should drop out of the race.
“Growing up in these hills, I learned the value of work. I loaded hay, worked in four different factories, put out groceries and, through college, was a janitor cleaning campus buildings,” Hutchinson said in Bentonville, Arkansas, the birthplace of Walmart, where Hutchinson began his career as a prosecutor. “Everything to pay the bills and get an education. In law school, I took advantage of the federal student loan program. And, yes, I paid off my loan.”
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is seeing whether voters will respond to his common-sense conservative approach.
Hutchinson is putting his lengthy resume front and center in his campaign. His second term as governor of Arkansas ended in January. Hutchinson was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1996 and served as one of the administrators in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998. He resigned from the House in 2001 to serve in the administration of President George W. Bush as undersecretary in the Department of Homeland Security and at the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
“If people look at my story, I fought against the establishment, I fought in court for justice, I fought as a governor for credible reform, so there are many different ways to fight. You can fight with common sense and reason, and then you can fight like a screamer. Well, if you’re looking for someone to yell, that’s not me,” Hutchinson told HuffPost in Iowa last weekend.
The formal launch of Hutchinson’s campaign comes a day after President Joe Biden announced his re-election bid. framing himself as a guard against the increasingly authoritarian Trump-led MAGA Republicans.
It also came a day after one of her rivals, former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, sought to distinguish herself as a moderate on abortion without offering details about her preferred policies. Hutchinson he said he would sign a 15-week national abortion ban.
Hutchinson joins a Republican field that so far includes Haley and Trump, as well as former radio host Larry Elder and anti-wake author Vivek Ramaswamy. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott are also expected to launch campaigns soon.
Igor Bobic contributed reporting.