The Republican governor of Arkansas came out on Sunday against a potential 2024 White House run for former President Donald Trump, again arguing that the twice-impeached ex-president “should not define” the future of the Republican Party.
During an interview on CNN’s State of the Union, Gov. Asa Hutchinson was asked by host Dana Bash about Arkansas State Sen. Jim Hendren—who is Hutchinson’s nephew—announcing his departure from the GOP over Trump’s incitement of the Jan. 6 insurrectionist riot at the U.S. Capitol.
“It saddens me and it’s certainly a warning sign to us that there are many out there that would like to see a more civil dialogue and so I have tremendous respect for his—what he announced or what he's thinking there,” Hutchinson said.
Pointing out that Hutchinson had previously said that Trump can’t define the party moving forward, the CNN anchor observed that the former president is scheduled to make his first post-White House speech at next week’s Conservative Political Action Conference while actively encouraging primary challenges of Republicans who don’t embrace him.
“Has Trump succeeded in taking down the Republican Party as you know it?” Bash wondered aloud.
“He'll only define the party if we let him,” Hutchinson replied. That's a reason my voice is important. Other's voices are important in this debate and I think it's fine for CPAC to invite former President Trump to speak.”
“He has a loud megaphone but we have to have many different voices and in my view, we can't let him define us for the future because that would just further divide our country and it would hurt our Republican Party,” he continued.
Bash, meanwhile, finally broached the question about Trump teasing a 2024 run, asking the Arkansas governor if he’d ever support Trump again.
“No, I wouldn't,” Hutchinson definitely declared. “It's time and he's got a good family. I worked with Ivanka [Trump] and others and they love America. But I would not support him for reelection in 2024.”
“He's going to have a voice, as former presidents do, but there are many voices in the party and again, he should not define our future,” he concluded. “We've got to define it for ourself and that has to be based upon the principles that gave us the strength in America.”
While Hutchinson and some other Republicans have come out against Trump being the face of the party and the GOP’s frontrunner in 2024, Republican voters overwhelmingly see it as the party of Trump.
A recent Morning Consult poll reveals that 54 percent of GOP voters would back Trump in a 2024 Republican primary. Former Vice President Mike Pence, whose life was threatened by MAGA supporters at the Capitol riot, placed a distant second in the poll at 12 percent. The same poll also shows 59 percent of Republican voters want Trump to play a prominent role in the party going forward.