by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Asa Hutchinson is a fine public servant who never should have run for president and is, unfortunately, demonstrating it every day, or at least every time someone remembers he’s running.
His campaign consists mostly of occasional Sunday-show appearances where he’s invited to criticize Donald Trump, and appearances at cattle calls where it’s obligatory for the hosts to invite him.
He barely qualified for the RNC debate last week and made no impression as he clung to the edge of the stage in a spot reserved for the candidates with the lowest standing.
Again, none of this is to denigrate his accomplishments as a U.S. attorney, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, or governor of Arkansas. But his current campaign is a pointless exercise. Understandably, he wants a return to a more honorable Republican Party, but the role of vocal Trump critic is being more effectively taken up by Chris Christie, who has gotten some traction in New Hampshire. And his traditional Republican policy priorities are being championed by sundry other candidates.
It’s not as though Hutchinson’s 1 percent support in the polls is going to provide a big boost to anyone else, but every bit counts and it will be good to establish the precedent of flagging candidates’ being willing to step aside for the greater good.
Other GOP critics of Trump, who share Hutchinson’s political premises and goals, made this point in declining to run. Former Maryland governor Larry Hogan declined to run to avoid a “multi-car pileup.” New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu said, “I don’t mind who gets into the field, but given where the polls are right now, every candidate needs to understand the responsibility of getting out and getting out quickly if it’s not working.”