Asa Hutchinson announces candidacy for Republican presidential nomination

<span>Photograph: Pablo Martínez Monsiváis/AP</span>
Photograph: Pablo Martínez Monsiváis/AP
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The former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson announced on Sunday that he plans to run for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, saying the US needs “leaders that appeal to the best of America, and not simply appeal to our worst instincts” while also calling for Donald Trump to drop out the race.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the political aisle, the centrist Democrat and West Virginia senator Joe Manchin evaded a question during an interview on CNN about a potential run challenging his party’s Oval Office incumbent, Joe Biden, fueling speculation about his own ambitions.

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“This is one of the most unpredictable political environments that I have seen in my lifetime,” Hutchinson said on ABC, adding that he traveled the US for six months and listened to repeated demands for new leadership before declaring himself as a candidate.

Hutchinson’s announcement follows an eclectic career including stints as a prosecutor, administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration and a member of Congress. He joins the former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley as the only members of the Republican mainstream to challenge Trump, Biden’s presidential predecessor, for the party’s 2024 White House nomination. Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, has been Trump’s only serious rival in polling.

Hutchinson spoke of his recent visit to Iowa, which has historically been the first state to vote in presidential primaries and holds a crucial spot in White House election cycles.

The former governor of Arkansas had hinted at this candidacy for almost a year and said in May that a possible Trump campaign wouldn’t deter him from running.

He said he doesn’t “align” with a lot of Trump’s politics and that the country needed to go in a “different direction”.

In Sunday’s interview, he said that Trump is better off focusing on his criminal indictment in the Stormy Daniels hush money case, as well as other legal concerns, instead of taking another shot at the presidency.

“If we’re looking at the presidency and the future of our country, then we don’t need that distraction,” said Hutchinson, who added that he would formally kick off his presidential campaign later this month.

Meanwhile, on Sunday morning, CNN’s Dana Bash spoke with Manchin and informed him of Hutchinson’s announcement. The host then asked Manchin about his own plans for 2024 after the senator skirted a question about whether he would support re-electing Biden in 2024.

“I’m worn out,” Manchin said. “The people are tired, sick and tired of the fighting and division that we have.”

When Bash asked Manchin again about his plans for 2024, Manchin replied evasively, saying: “We have a movement. There’s a movement. There’s a movement going on that people want to bring the extremes back to the sensible and reasonable, responsible middle.”

He then went on to say he would like to be at least “a part of trying to get a dialogue” that would bring people “to the middle”.

“It’s about our country,” Manchin said. “Everyone’s worried about their own political future. I’m worried about the country.”

A millionaire coal-trading company founder, Manchin at times has undermined the agendas of Biden and other Democrats, occasionally voting against the party’s interest in the Senate, where the party and the independents who caucus with it currently hold just a two-seat advantage. Notably, last year, Manchin torpedoed sweeping climate legislation staunchly opposed by Republicans before later helping ratify a less ambitious bill.

The self-help author Marianne Williamson has so far been the only Democrat to announce an intent to challenge Biden for the party’s presidential nomination in 2024. Biden is widely expected to announce another White House run but as of Sunday had not officially done so.