Gov. Hutchinson to announce in November whether he will run for U.S. president
Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he will wait until November before announcing whether he will run for president. The Republican governor spoke Monday during a forum by the Washington Post.
When asked about former President Donald Trump, Hutchinson said people in his party need to move on from Trump, though he noted that will be a challenge. Trump hasn’t formally announced whether he will run for another term.
“In terms of the grassroots of our party, he's got a significant following," Hutchinson said. "Any candidate that wants to be president has to be able to identify with the issues that Donald Trump is able to drive. I mean, these are real concerns.”
Trump won Arkansas with 62% of the vote in the last presidential election, according to Politico’s election map.
Hutchinson said the issues that his party is focused on are rising crime, border security, foreign policy and inflation.
Trump was in Washington D.C last week, NPR News reported, making his case to be the nominee.
“I always say, I ran the first time, and I won. Then I ran a second time, and I did much better. We got millions and millions more votes. And you know what? That's going to be a story for a long time. What a disgrace it was," Trump said at an America First Summit. "We may just have to do it again. We have to straighten out our country,”
In April, Hutchinson – who is term-limited – visited New Hampshire, which is one of the first states to vote in presidential primaries. So far, Hutchinson has only said he is considering a run and that he wants to have a say in the direction of the Republican Party.
“2024 is so critical in terms of shaping the Republican Party," Hutchinson said. "So whether it's as a candidate or whether it's in some other role, I certainly want to be a voice. And this is an important point.”
During the forum, Hutchinson was asked about Arkansas’ abortion laws and the future of abortion laws in the country.
Arkansas has banned all abortions, including in cases of rape and incest. After the landmark Roe v. Wade decision was overturned, Arkansas’ trigger laws, which were passed in 2019 by the Republican-controlled legislature, became enforceable. Hutchinson, who signed the bills into law, said he has regrets for not making exceptions for rape and incest.
“At the time that was passed, I issued a letter saying I support the additional exceptions of rape and incest, and I could go through the reasons for that. But I issued that letter. People say, well, why didn't you veto the law? Well, in Arkansas, a veto can be overridden by a simple majority vote,” Hutchinson said.
The governor said there are currently no plans by the legislature to ban women from getting the procedure in other states.
“We have the freedom of travel in America," Hutchinson said. "While we don't encourage, support traveling out of state to take the life of an unborn child, there's not any prohibition on that. There's no restrictions. And that's the freedom that we have in America. We always have or had the ability to travel for healthcare out of state or make the decision to have healthcare in state.”
Hutchinson suggested the state’s laws focus on punishing providers and not the women who get the procedures. He explained it would be difficult to prosecute providers in other states.
At the time trigger laws took effect, Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, who is the Senate president pro tempore, told KUAR News there are no plans by the legislature to ban out-of-state abortions.
According to a map by Planned Parenthood, the closest abortion clinic is in Illinois. The map also shows clinics in Kansas as options.
When asked about Arkansas ranking 48th in childhood poverty, Hutchinson said being a rural state presents challenges in healthcare. He added adopting the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act was a step in the right direction.
“Arkansas went against the grain, and my predecessor did Medicaid expansion for the reasons that you just indicated, trying to improve our health outcomes in Arkansas. I continued that as a Republican governor because I knew how important it was, and we shot up with access to healthcare,” Hutchinson said. “We're trying to do more even now, as I said, with our rural hospitals to provide wraparound services for the mom going through a pregnancy, but also to extend it after that child is born.”
Next week, the Arkansas Legislature will meet for a special session. The primary goal is to consider Hutchinson's push to speed up the implementation of tax cuts passed by lawmakers last year. Hutchinson has also indicated a desire to use the session to address foster care because of the abortion ruling.
The full half-hour interview with the Post can be found on its Twitter feed. A transcript of the interview can be found on the paper’s website (a subscription is not needed for the Hutchinson interview).