Hutchinson, at odds with Trump, eyes 2024 US presidential run
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said on Sunday he is considering a run for the 2024 Republican U.S. presidential nomination, making clear that he is "not aligned" with former President Donald Trump, another potential candidate.
Hutchinson, a former congressman and head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, is in his final year as governor of the southern state, with Arkansas law barring him from seeking a third four-year term.
Asked on CNN's "State of the Union" whether he was considering running for his party's presidential nomination, Hutchinson said, "I am. But of course you've got to get through this year. That's an option on the table."
Hutchinson has criticized Trump's continued efforts to discredit the 2020 presidential election in which Democrat Joe Biden defeated the businessman-turned-politician. Trump has made false claims that the election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud.
Hutchinson said Trump's decision on whether to run will not influence his own. "I've made it clear I think we ought to have a different direction in the future and so I'm not aligned with him on some of his endorsements, but also the direction he wants to take our country," Hutchinson said.
"I think he did a lot of good things for our country, but we need to go a different direction. And so that's not a factor in my decision-making process."
Trump rebuked Hutchinson last year when the governor vetoed a Republican-backed bill passed by the state legislature to ban certain types of treatment for transgender youths. Hutchinson called the measure a government overreach. The legislature subsequently voted to override his veto.
"Bye-bye Asa, that's the end of him!" Trump said in a statement at the time, dismissing the conservative governor as a "lightweight RINO," one of the former president's favorite insults, meaning "Republican in name only."
Hutchinson, who last week attended a political event in the pivotal early presidential primary state of New Hampshire, said he is passionate about border security, cracking down on criminal cartels and keeping in place a COVID-19 pandemic-related policy that lets U.S. authorities rapidly expel migrants, including asylum seekers, to Mexico and other nations.
Other potential Republican contenders in 2024 include Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.