We remember when Asa Hutchinson first ran for governor. If faulty memory serves, his signage people got by with italicizing his first name, the state, and gave it a slammer.
Asa for Arkansas!
As in, that was all you needed to know. We here in Arkansas know each other by first names, and his was kinda rare. So give your vote to Asa! and all will be right with the world.
We think he lost that race.
But he came back, better than ever. And went on to be one of the more pragmatic governors in a long line of pragmatic governors. And when you consider that surrounding states have had Edwin Edwards, Ann Richards, John Ashcroft and the like, our governors since, oh, about the Faubus Error have been as sensible as a Republican cloth coat.
On Sunday, Asa Hutchinson announced that he's running for president on ABC's "This Week." In making that announcement he said, "I hear people talking about the leadership of our country. I'm convinced people want leaders that appeal to the best of America, and not simply appeal to our worst instincts." Hear, hear.
Our just-now-former governor has been a frequent critic of Donald Trump in recent months. (For reasons, see Cal Thomas nearby.) And Asa Hutchinson did not equivocate and he didn't backtrack on TV this weekend. He said, "the office is more important than any one individual."
That answer is what separates him from the rest of the field of Republican candidates and potential candidates. But here is something that recommends him even more, from the Democratic National Committee: "After calling Donald Trump 'the kind of transparent, straight-talking leader America needs,' Asa Hutchinson now wants to rewrite history--but his support for Trump and the MAGA agenda speaks for itself."
Asa! should send the DNC a thank-you card.
Take that, whoever thinks Asa Hutchinson doesn't have conservative bona fides.
For the record, there were a whole lot of Americans who, in 2016, wanted a straight-talking leader and voted to give Donald Trump a shot at the White House. Especially given the alternative. Thinking people can change their minds when given new information.
("I have never talked to a Trump supporter, and my world is thick with them, who thought he had a high personal character. On the other hand, they sincerely believe he has a high political character, in that he pursues the issues he campaigned on. They hired him as an insult to the political class, as a Hail Mary pass--we've tried everything else, maybe this will work--and because he agreed with them on the issues."--Peggy Noonan, 2019)
Asa Hutchinson served as the Under Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security for Border and Transportation Security (2003-2005) under George Bush the Younger, and as the administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency (2001–2003). Who better to handle the fentanyl crisis--one of the most serious issues this nation faces--than a president who is intimately familiar with the drug-related goings-on at the border?
He was a member of Congress from 1997 until 2001, with rock-solid conservative credentials and a legacy of being one of the few House prosecutors to spearhead an impeachment case in the history of the country. (Speaking of Arkansans running for president . . . .)
Any accusation by the MAGA crowd for his not being angry enough, well, that's the point. Asa Hutchinson has been conservative enough, policy-wonk enough, tax-cutting enough to have his own lane in the primaries, but especially because he seems such a happy warrior. Wasn't Renaldo Maximus the same way?
We don't see Asa Hutchinson tweeting a punch-down hateful insult at 2 a.m. or egging on a mob at a rally to get physical with a protester. And he's lawyer enough not to get himself indicted, we predict.
A new ABC News poll shows where Asa's base may be: "While a majority [of Republicans], 62 percent, say that Trump should not have been charged, one in five Republicans say they 'don't know' and 16 percent say he should have been charged, per the ABC News/Ipsos poll conducted using Ipsos' KnowledgePanel."
In what could be a crowded field, Asa! could get the lion's share of the 36 percent who "don't know" or think Trump should have been charged in L'Affaire Stormy Daniels. It remains to be seen where the numbers will shake out when probable indictments come down on more serious matters.
When asked whether Evangelical Christians should not support Mr. Trump given his "lifestyle" and the charges against him in Manhattan, Asa Hutchinson said, "I'm part of that." And the Evangelical community "needs to distance themselves from some of the bad instincts that drive Mr. Trump."
When he says, "I'm part of that," he means it and he has not come to this view recently. No one can question his lifelong faith.
If anyone can wrest the support of the critical Evangelical community in the Republican primary, it ought to be Asa.
If the polls show anything at the beginning of April 2023, it's that the people don't want another Biden-Trump choice. There are already mumblings about a third-party challenge. (Let's not!)
The people have seen both of these men at work, and don't much care for either. One had the right policies (mostly) but couldn't get away from his character. The other just has wrong policies. The people are fairly shouting to the national parties: Give us better choices!
Asa Hutchinson is nothing if not serious. While there is plenty of room for a wide swath of Americans to disagree with what he believes, there can be no question that he is a thoughtful leader who puts in the work.
In January, at a time when MAGA extremists were daily shouting against aid for Ukraine and calling into question President Biden's trip to Kyiv, Asa Hutchinson tweeted: "President Biden's visit to the heart of Ukraine is a good moment for America as we show bipartisan support for those in Ukraine fighting for freedom, democracy & their very lives. The GOP must not waiver in our support for those standing against oppression."
Once upon a better time, American politics stopped at the ocean's shore. And when the president went abroad, partisans back home held their tongues. Looking at some of the members of Congress today, and their need to be on cable news every night, does anybody believe they could hold their tongues if they tried?
Congressman/Secretary/Governor Asa Hutchinson has spent a career exercising rationality in his thought, word and deed. His language alone, expressing a desire to unite a great country and appeal to the better angels of our nature could have Americans looking to Morning Again in America.
Republicans should take a serious look at a serious candidate.
Besides, we could dine out on that story about Asa!, the bullet-proof vest, and 1985's negotiations to put an end to The Convenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord people. We'd love to see some of that footage in a campaign commercial.