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Former Gov. Asa Hutchinson reflects on presidential campaign

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson gestures during an interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson reflects on his terminated presidential campaign after the Iowa Caucuses.

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced his decision to end his campaign for president of the United States last week.

This came after the Iowa Caucuses, where Hutchinson came in sixth place. Out of the over 100,000 votes cast, Hutchinson only got 191.

“It's going to haunt me a long time,” he said. “Nobody can understand how you can spend $1.5 million and only get that number of votes.”

Right now, former President Donald Trump is the frontrunner to win the Republican nomination.

Throughout the campaign, Hutchinson tried to emphasize his contrast to Trump. He often leaned on phrases like “character counts” in his speeches. Hutchinson supports the several criminal and civil investigations ongoing against Trump and is troubled by what he sees as Republicans excusing accusations against the former president.

“I knew it was uphill since day one,” Hutchinson said.

During the first Republican presidential debate, candidates were all asked if they would vote for Trump if he were convicted of a felony. Every candidate raised their hand except for Hutchinson.

“I’ve said that Donald Trump was morally disqualified as a result of what happened on January 6,” he said during the event. His response elicited loud booing sounds from the onlookers.

“I knew exactly what I was doing,” Hutchinson told Little Rock Public Radio. “When you go against the grain, you expect that kind of blowback.”

He said after that debate, he struggled to harness the mainstream media attention needed to be a viable candidate. He also struggled to gin up financial support after the first debate. When the Iowa caucuses came, there was very little focus on him.

“I was left with a retail campaign,” he said.

He had some optimism going into last Monday night, but wasn't able to get enough votes to keep moving.

“What happened the last few days is the momentum shifted to Nikki Haley,” he said. “That gave her a fighting chance but it also diminished my voting results.”

Hutchinson still feels the Republican Party will have to “battle for its soul” if Trump becomes the nominee.

Hutchinson said he still has “opportunities in the private sector” as he sees what the future holds. For now, he says he's looking forward to going duck hunting next week.

Josie Lenora is the Politics/Government Reporter for Little Rock Public Radio.