Gov. Asa Hutchinson Says GOP Needs to Move Past Donald Trump

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Arkansas governor is testing the waters for a 2024 run, says ‘de-linking’ conservative issues from the former president will take time

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson praised Donald Trump's policies but said their party must de-link conservative ideas from the 'culture of personality' around the former president, speaking at the WSJ Future of Everything Festival. Photo: Andy Davis for WSJ

By Joseph Pisani

The Republican Party has to move past former President Donald Trump, said Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. To do so, voters need to see other leaders fighting for the same conservative issues Mr. Trump was passionate about.

“There is a linkage right now between him personally and those things that we care about…de-linking those takes time,” Mr. Hutchinson said Tuesday at The Future of Everything Festival. “We have to show that we are the party of the future and not the last election. That is critical for us.”

The Republican governor said that the party should focus on issues that affect people’s everyday lives, instead of harsh talk.

“I hope that we can stay away from divisiveness that hurts America,” he said. “And I hope that we can stay away from the culture of personality, if you will, or chaos, that really destroys the confidence that Americans want to have in their leaders and their elected representatives.”

Mr. Hutchinson said he is considering a run for president in 2024, but said he is focusing on this year’s midterm elections in November. He won re-election in 2018 and is unable to run for governor again in this year because of term limits.

“I am concerned about the direction of our country,” Mr. Hutchinson said. “We’re laying the foundation and testing the waters for 2024, but we first have to get through this and we will make the decision at the right time for the future.”

Mr. Hutchinson said the leaked Supreme Court draft decision, which indicated the court could overturn Roe v. Wade, won’t give the Democrats more energy than Republicans because abortion has been a divisive issue for decades. “That’s going to continue to divide us,” he said.

In the wake of a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., where 10 people were killed, some lawmakers are calling on Republican leaders to forcefully condemn white supremacyand other racist and xenophobic rhetoric.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson at The Future of Everything Festival in New York on Tuesday.

Mr. Hutchinson wouldn’t say whether Republicans should take a stronger stance against hateful speech and ideologies, but stressed using the right tone when talking about race relations and immigration.

The alleged gunman chose the grocery store because it was in a ZIP Code with a high number of Black residents and he planned to kill as many Black people as possible. He also posted a document online that cited racist conspiracy theories he discovered on internet message boards.

“Rhetoric is important,” Mr. Hutchinson said. “The words you use are very, very important.”

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