Asa Hutchinson Suspends Republican Presidential Bid

Former Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, who entered the presidential race as an outspoken critic of former President Donald J. Trump but never gained traction, suspended his bid for the Republican nomination on Tuesday.

“Today, I am suspending my campaign for president and driving back to Arkansas,” he said in a statement after finishing with less than 1 percent support in the Iowa caucuses on Monday. “My message of being a principled Republican with experience and telling the truth about the current front-runner did not sell in Iowa. I stand by the campaign I ran.”

Mr. Hutchinson, who announced his candidacy in April, frequently called on the former president to drop out of the presidential race over his actions on Jan. 6, 2021, to no avail.

“How in the world are you going to beat Donald Trump,” he said during an interview just days before the Iowa caucuses, “if somebody is not out there sounding the alarm that we can all go down in flames if we have the wrong nominee?”

He sought to brand himself as a voice of “consistent conservatism” in the race and has said he chose to run to give Republican voters a variety of non-Trump options.

But after squeaking into the first Republican National Committee debate in August, Mr. Hutchinson failed to make the rest of them, as candidates were required to clear increasingly heightened polling and fund-raising thresholds.

On the trail, Mr. Hutchinson emphasized his extensive political résumé, which included two terms as a representative in the U.S. Congress and leadership roles in the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Homeland Security Department. His platform included calls to cut the federal work force and heighten border security and criminalization for fentanyl distribution.

Despite Mr. Hutchinson’s numerous trips to early states, including in the final days of campaigning before the Iowa caucuses, his message never really caught on. He struggled to break 1 percent in polls; his events failed to draw large crowds; and he got the least speaking time during his only debate performance.

He had raised only $1.2 million through September and spent $924,015 of it, a fraction of the sums other major candidates pulled in. His single television ad did not get much air time.

Mr. Hutchinson’s initial campaign manager, Rob Burgess, departed at the end of October and shortly after, Mr. Hutchinson said on social media that he would not file for the ballot in South Carolina — no point competing there, Mr. Hutchinson has said. Nikki Haley, who is also seeking the nomination, is the state’s former governor.

Mr. Hutchinson broke from others in the race on various issues, taking positions that are more moderate than is typical of Republicans in the Trump era — though he is not a moderate Republican.

He said he would maintain a trade relationship with China, and he did not support a full border wall. He has also pushed back on legislation related to transgender rights by vetoing a bill in Arkansas in 2021 that banned transition care for minors. But he supported several other restrictions on transgender rights, signed a ban on abortion that makes no exceptions for pregnancies that result from rape or incest and has taken other conservative stances.

Jonathan Weisman contributed reporting.

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