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Former Arkansas governor promises to continue campaign after missing GOP debate

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson smiles at a cheering crowd during his formal presidential campaign launch on April 26, 2023 in Bentonville.
Antoinette Grajeda
Arkansas Advocate
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson smiles at a cheering crowd during his formal presidential campaign launch on April 26, 2023 in Bentonville.

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he will continue his bid for president, despite failing to qualify for the second Republican presidential debate on Wednesday.

In a statement issued Monday evening, Hutchinson said he will keep campaigning with events across the country in the coming weeks. This includes a press conference in Detroit on Wednesday where the former governor said he will highlight Donald Trump’s “false promises to blue collar and union workers in Michigan and across America.”

“I entered this race because it is critically important for a leader within the Republican Party to stand up to Donald Trump and call him out on misleading his supporters and the American people,” he said.

Trump is again skipping the debate and will instead deliver remarks at an automotive parts manufacturer and supplier north of Detroit. His visit follows President Joe Biden’s Tuesday visit to join striking United Auto Workers union members on the picket line.

To participate in the debate, the Republican National Committee required candidates to have a minimum of 50,000 unique donors, with at least 200 coming from 20 states or territories. Candidates also needed at least 3% support in two national polls or 3% in one national poll and 3% in two polls from four early-voting states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

Hutchinson said he plans to increase his poll numbers over the next two months.

“I understand that the RNC and the media are trying to reduce the number of candidates, but I measure success based on the response I receive in early primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire,” Hutchinson said. “My goal is to increase my polling numbers to 4% in an early state before Thanksgiving. If that goal is met, then I remain competitive and in contention for either Caucus Day or Primary Day.”

In addition to Trump, seven other GOP candidates qualified for Wednesday’s debate at Ronald Reagan’s presidential library in California, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, U.S. Sen. Tom Scott, R-South Carolina, and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

Antoinette Grajeda is a multimedia journalist who has reported since 2007 on a wide range of topics, including politics, health, education, immigration and the arts for NPR affiliates, print publications and digital platforms. A University of Arkansas alumna, she earned a bachelor’s degree in print journalism and a master’s degree in documentary film.