Hutchinson officially enters presidential race, ready to battle for country's 'future' and party's 'soul'

Former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson is greeted by well wishers Wednesday, April 26, 2023 at his campaign for president formal announcement at the Bentonville Square. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF)

BENTONVILLE — Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson officially launched his presidential campaign Wednesday with a mission of serving as a unifying voice for the Republican Party going into the 2024 election.

While Hutchinson has been a leading Republican figure in Arkansas, which includes tenures leading the state Republican Party and serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, his entrance into the presidential race comes as former President Donald Trump maintains a sizeable presence in the party’s identity.

Addressing a crowd of about 400 in Bentonville, where Hutchinson was born and began his public service career as city attorney, the former governor said he has been a consistent conservative voice during his time in public service.

"And now, I bring that same vigor to fight another battle, and that battle is for the future of our country and the soul of our party," Hutchinson told the crowd. "Today, I am announcing that I am a candidate for president of the United States."

Hutchinson's 2024 announcement transcript was released by his campaign ahead of the event.

Hutchinson, 72, enters the presidential race a day after President Joe Biden announced his re-election bid. Hutchinson has criticized the Biden administration over various issues, including security at the U.S.-Mexico border and national defense.

"In this campaign for president, I stand alone in terms of my experience, record and leadership," Hutchinson said. "From Congress to DEA to Homeland Security, I have served our country in times of crisis."

Hutchinson has been eyeing a presidential campaign since the final year of his governorship. He left the governor’s office in January after eight years in office, in which he led Arkansas during the coronavirus pandemic. His legacy also includes an income tax reduction, changes to how Arkansas handles its Medicaid expansion, and a ban on transgender girls and women from playing on sports teams aligned with their gender identity.

Hutchinson’s resume features stints as a U.S. attorney; chairman of the Republican Party of Arkansas; a U.S. House of Representatives member; and an official within George W. Bush’s administration.

The former governor has been a vocal critic of Trump, who leads national Republican polls. Hutchinson pushed back against Trump as the latter pushed false claims regarding the 2020 presidential election results. Hutchinson later added that the January 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol further disqualifies Trump from serving in the White House again.

“You look for both a new leader of our party and a leader of our country, and I think my consistent conservatism and optimism about our future and problem-solving capabilities as governor, that’s what we need,” Hutchinson told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Monday.

Former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy have launched their respective presidential campaigns. U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, announced an exploratory committee regarding a possible presidential campaign earlier this month.

Other Republicans considering a presidential run include Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

"There is behind me, on the Courthouse wall, a statement that is the foundation of our nation: 'Sovereignty rests with the people,' ” Hutchinson told the crowd. "This means that you will decide the direction of our nation. The fate of the world’s greatest democracy is in your hands."

To read more about Hutchinson, click here.