Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas said Sunday that he’s weighing a White House bid in 2024 and that he would still consider running even if former President Donald Trump enters the race.
“You’ve got to get through, of course, this year. But that’s an option that’s on the table,” Hutchinson, who is term-limited as governor, told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” when asked if he was seriously considering 2024 run.
Pressed by Bash on whether he would still consider running if Trump decides to seek the 2024 GOP nomination, Hutchinson said the former President’s candidacy is “not a factor in my decision-making process.”
“I’ve made it clear: I think we ought to have a different direction in the future,” he added. “I think he did a lot of good things for our country, but we need to go a different direction.”
Trump has not announced a 2024 White House bid but has teased a potential run since leaving office last year.
Hutchinson also took aim at another possible 2024 GOP presidential contender Saturday. He said that he disagrees with Florida’s recent law championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis that effectively punishes Disney for opposing LGBTQ restrictions enacted in the state.
“I don’t believe that government should be punitive against private businesses because we disagree with them,” Hutchinson said. “To me, that’s the old Republican principle of having restrained government.”
The Arkansas governor, however, did say that he felt Disney “handled this very poorly,” adding that he shared DeSantis’ belief that sexual orientation should not be taught “in those lower grades” in school.
Hutchinson told Bash last year that he would not back Trump if he decided to run in 2024 – a departure from his previous support for Trump’s 2020 reelection bid.
At the time, the governor said that although Trump would continue to have a voice in the Republican Party, the former President “should not define our future,” adding that the party needs “to respond and identify with the issues that gave him the first election and gave him support throughout his presidency.”
First elected governor in 2014, Hutchinson, who served in the US House from 1997 to 2001, has come to be known as someone who occasionally bucks the GOP while also nodding to his party’s base on certain issues.
Earlier this year, he urged large businesses in his state not to comply with the Biden administration’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate, saying employers should not follow the “oppressive” rule hours before it was set to partially go into effect.
Last August, as the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus was sweeping through the US, the governor said he regretted approving a statewide ban on face mask mandates.
And in April 2021, Hutchinson drew praise from LGBTQ advocates after he vetoed an anti-transgender health care bill that prohibited physicians in the state from providing gender-affirming “procedures” for trans people under age 18. The bill, however, later became law after state lawmakers overrode the veto.
CNN’s Andi Babineau and Chandelis Duster contributed to this report.