Top GOPer Tells Trump to 'Step Back' from 2024 Race After Indictment, but Here's What He Didn't Reveal


On Friday, one of the Republican Party’s most influential voices is telling former President Donald Trump to “step back” from the 2024 GOP nomination race after his indictment was officially announced last week, saying it was a “huge distraction.”

What that voice didn’t say at the time? Whether or not he was running for president himself.

Well, lo and behold, before the weekend was out, he was in the race.

Just two days after saying Trump should “step aside,” former Arkansas GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson told ABC’s “This Week” that he would be seeking the presidency in 2024.

“While the formal announcement will be later in April … I wanted to make clear that to you, Jonathan, I am going to be going to be running,” Hutchinson told host Jonathan Karl.

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“And the reason — as I’ve traveled the country for six months, I hear people talk about the leadership of our country, and I’m convinced that people want leaders that appeal to the best of America and not simply appeal to our worst instincts,” he continued.

“That inspires me when I see everyday Americans just saying, ‘Give us good leadership. Give us common sense, consistent conservatism and optimism about our great country.’ And that inspires me. And I believe I can be that kind of leader for the people of America.”

Right. Let’s rewind to Friday — when, as The Hill noted in its report, Hutchinson was merely supposed to be “considering a run for president in 2024.”

“When a public official is indicted, I think with regard to the office, the office is more important than the person, and they should step aside,” Hutchinson told Fox Business, one day after the bombshell indictment was first reported.

Should Asa Hutchinson run for president?

“That standard should apply here. It is a distraction. It is not a good day for America, but the system has to play out here, and we have to have confidence that it can.”

This wasn’t the first time Hutchinson had made this point, either, telling USA Today in a March interview that Trump ought to end his presidential bid if he were indicted.

“It’s out of respect for the institution of the presidency of the United States,” he said. “That’s a distraction that is difficult to run for the highest office in the land under those circumstances.”

“I know he’s going to say that they’re politically motivated and all of those things, but the fact is, there’s just a lot of turmoil out there with the number of investigations going on,” he added.

Yes, well, you don’t say. And, of course, a popular former two-term governor of Arkansas and ex-U.S. attorney who has built a resume that would work much better in a field that didn’t just boil down to Trump vs. DeSantis would prefer there be none of that “politically motivated … turmoil.”

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And now, fast forward to the interview that aired Sunday:

Karl asked Hutchinson whether he still believed Trump should drop out now that he’s been indicted.

“Well, I do. First of all, the office is more important than any individual person. And so, for the sake of the office of the presidency, I do think that’s too much of a side show and distraction, and he needs to be able to concentrate on his due process, and there is a presumption of innocence,” Hutchinson said.

“But the second reason is, throughout my eight years as governor, and as a political leader, I’ve always said that people don’t have to step aside from public office if they’re under investigation. But if it reaches the point of criminal charges that have to be answered, the office is always more important than a person.”

“And he should step aside and no longer run?” Karl asked.

“Well, he should. But, at the same time, we know he’s not,” Hutchinson said. “And there’s not any constitutional requirement. And so he’s going to pursue, and I understand that, but I stated my principles and belief and how I think it should be handled.”

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is pretty much the beginning and end of the Hutchinson campaign in the space of, oh, 3.5 minutes.

First off, one doth not get their hinder so chafed in the course of a weekend that they decide Trump’s indictment — flimsy, politically motivated and extremely dubious from a legal standpoint though it may be — is reason for them to get in the presidential race. Hutchinson knew full well that he was throwing his hat in the ring when he spoke to Fox Business on Friday, and there’s a very significant likelihood he’d made his mind up when the USA Today interview was conducted.

Not disclosing that when telling Trump to “step aside” while other Republicans — even Trump’s enemies and his opponents in the 2024 primary process — were calling out the indictment as a transparent sham ought to make his candidacy a nonstarter.

Second, while we can all talk about how hard primaries are to predict, Hutchinson doesn’t become a viable candidate unless the 2024 GOP nomination process is something other than the Don and Ron show. The former governor’s strategy seems to be shaming Trump into stepping aside because of the chaos his candidacy would cause.

And then, regarding Trump stepping aside, he reveals why this is a big, fat waste of time and donor money: “Well, he should. But, at the same time, we know he’s not.”

Oh. So the strategy is to shame Trump into getting out of the race. But at the same time, he admits Trump won’t be getting out of the race. Thanks for playing.

Look, Hutchinson was a good governor and has a solid career as a public servant. That doesn’t mean he’s presidential material; even were Trump out of the race, he’d be fifth or sixth down the list and in desperate need of a breakout moment.

Furthermore, what Hutchinson definitely didn’t need is what he pulled Friday, where — and, let’s face it, it was for his own personal gain — he became one of the loudest mainstream conservative voices telling Trump to “step aside” over a banana republic indictment from a George Soros-funded district attorney who briefly treated armed robbery as a misdemeanor (until public outrage made him think the better of it) but now wants to treat a rarely charged misdemeanor well past the statute of limitations as if it were a still-viable felony charge because he claims Trump violated federal election law. Oh, and because of the fact that he’s Donald Trump.

Every conservative who isn’t condemning this should be out of consideration for the 2024 nomination. And Hutchinson, who was telling Trump to “step aside” just days before he announced his own presidential bid, should step aside himself. It may be early, but we’ve seen enough.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture