Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has ended his 2024 presidential race after his dismal sixth-place showing in the Iowa caucuses showed how little Republican voters support him.
With 99% of the results expected, Hutchinson received just 191 votes in the Iowa caucuses and had not pledged any delegates as of Tuesday morning, appearing to be below his polling average of 0.07% in the Hawkeye State and trailing little-known Reverend Ryan Binkley, Who has no national file to speak of.
“My message of being a principled, experienced Republican and telling the truth about the current front-runner did not resonate in Iowa,” Hutchinson said in a statement, referring to Donald Trump. “I stand by my campaign. I answered every question, warned the Republican Party about the dangers in 2024 and offered hope for our country’s future.”
Hutchinson said that he congratulated Trump on the latter’s victory in Iowa and added, “[My wife] “Susan and I are incredibly fortunate, and we are grateful for the opportunity to fight in America’s political arena.”
Going into the Iowa contest, Hutchinson wanted to get into the top four and beat businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, who has since withdrawn.
Since launching his campaign in April 2023, Hutchinson has never been able to build significant momentum in the polls or with donors, failing to meet the demands of both GOP primary debates after the first stage last August.
He initially pledged to stay in the race through Thanksgiving, testing to see if he would break the 4% threshold in early voting, a goal he did not achieve.
But he kept his bid well beyond his self-imposed deadline, holding dozens of meet-and-greets in Iowa on what he called a “back to normal” tour during the final weeks of his campaign.
“It’s important to have an alternative voice,” he told ABC News at a Des Moines restaurant on Monday. “There are storm clouds gathering around Trump’s candidacy — and we need to be forewarned that it could lead us to an up-and-down disaster later this year.”
Hutchinson was the first GOP candidate to call on former President Trump to step down, arguing that Trump’s campaign and numerous legal cases distract from the issues facing Americans. (Trump denies any wrongdoing.) Hutchinson ultimately outlasted former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who had a similar message for conservative voters and similarly failed to persuade many of them.
“We don’t need to go the way of Donald Trump for another four years. It will destroy the party,” Hutchinson told reporters in September in New Hampshire, facing questions about whether he would withdraw. “I’m fighting for things that are important to me and my country — things I’ve fought for for 40 years — so don’t give that up lightly.”
Lacking the fame of some of his rivals, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Hutchinson campaigned as what he called a “steadfast conservative.” But the crowds did not flock to him: campaign events across key states with early voting might see a dozen attendees, or as few as two.
“Even if you find six people there, I enjoy it, because you have a question and answer, and you get to know them,” he said at a press conference over the summer in Washington, D.C.
Hutchinson had hoped to outlast Trump — whom he supported when he was governor of Arkansas but broke with him after Jan. 6, 2021 — betting that, between multiple criminal indictments and other baggage, the former president would be ousted by outside forces or he would anger voters. .
But with Trump winning the Iowa caucuses and Hutchinson failing to receive any delegates, he finally announced his resignation.
“if [Hutchinson] “If he had asked me, I would have advised him not to run,” said Len Provine, a political consultant for Republicans across the South. “It’s nothing against him personally, it’s just that his policies don’t match the politics of the moment.” “That’s not where Republican voters are right now.”
Brand “breadth of expertise”
On the road, tall but soft-spoken Hutchinson, often wearing a suit or sometimes a white baseball cap emblazoned with “Asa for America,” humbly introduced himself to diners and festival attendees in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire. I didn’t recognize him – or had never heard of him before.
He will tell them that his bid for the presidency brings “a breadth of experience unparalleled in this race” and recalls that he began his career in public service when President Ronald Reagan appointed him the nation’s youngest U.S. attorney.
He did not mention his failed attempt to join the US Senate – a campaign he started from the same steps in Arkansas where he launched his presidential campaign – but he did talk about his three terms in the US House of Representatives, before then-President George Bush. W. Bush. He appointed him to lead the Drug Enforcement Administration and, later, to serve as Homeland Security’s first Under Secretary for Border Protection.
But resumes don’t always resonate with voters, and Hutchinson’s traditional experience and approach don’t seem to be in line with the direction the party’s base wants to go, some observers said.
“I don’t think he could have done anything,” said Barry Bennett, Ben Carson’s 2016 presidential campaign manager who later became an outside adviser to Trump. “I don’t think he made any mistakes. Voters are really angry, especially with Washington, and they’re looking for a fight. That’s not Asa’s nature,” he added.
“Too normal” for running?
Hutchinson has stuck to familiar conservative policies — building a strong national defense, reducing the deficit, securing the border, increasing U.S. energy production — rather than feeding on culture war issues.
In launching his campaign, he promised to create an independent commission to study the future of Social Security and Medicare and lift penalties for people who continue to work after age 62, and insisted that the programs needed reform. He also pledged to reduce the federal civilian workforce by 10% and expand computer science education in every elementary school, initiatives he pushed as governor as well.
He issued several policy proposals along the way: one was a plan to reform federal law enforcement through restructuring, to increase transparency, and another was to allow states to implement work visa programs to help the flow of legal immigration.
Hutchinson also denounced voices within the GOP calling for defunding federal law enforcement and impeaching President Joe Biden, positions that are unpopular among those in the party’s “MAGA” base that is demanding a “two-tiered justice system” in light of Trump’s prosecutions.
“The Republican Party is under threat today,” he told Iowans at an event last July. “As it stands now, you will be voting in Iowa while there are still multiple criminal cases pending against former President Trump. Iowa has an opportunity to say, ‘As a party, we need a new direction for America and for the Republican Party.’”
This wasn’t the only time he gave such a warning, and it wasn’t the only time he was booed either.
“As someone who has worked in the courtroom for over 25 years as a federal prosecutor and also defending some of the most serious federal criminal cases, I can say there is a strong possibility that a jury will find Donald Trump guilty on Tuesday.” Criminal offense next year, he said in Orlando in November.
“As a party, we have to uphold the rule of law. We cannot win as a country without the integrity of the White House,” he said. “While some will ignore the former president’s destructive behavior, I assure you we ignore him at our own peril.”
He often told a story in his controversial speech about a voter who told him he seemed “too normal” to run for president, which inspired the name of his latest campaign, but also likely was the reason he didn’t get it, some say. He said.
“This is not only what people are looking for, but in essence we are running with an incumbent president inside the primary,” said Ed Brookover, a Republican consultant who advised the Carson and Trump campaigns in the 2016 cycle. “I think many Republican presidential candidates misread President Trump’s strength in these primaries.”
“If it had just been an open seat, Governor Hutchinson might have had a better chance at it,” he added.
It is unclear whether this will be the end of Hutchinson’s career in public service — or whether he will endorse another candidate for president.
“The only thing about running for president is there’s no losing,” Bennett, Carson’s former campaign manager, told ABC News. “He may not have succeeded, but he is better known, better liked, and in a better position to do whatever he wants to do next.”
ABC News’ Oren Oppenheim contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared on abcnews.go.com