Asa Hutchinson qualified for the debate stage on Wednesday by the skin of his teeth, and the former Arkansas governor is doing his best to raise his profile.
Oddly, though, his strategy seems to revolve around appearing on far-left news channels in an attempt to circumvent the primary electorate. I’m not sure how that works given it is Republicans who vote in said primaries, but I digress.
Hutchinson appeared on MSNBC on Monday, and he quickly learned that you can never be Never Trump enough. I’ll explain what I mean by that after the video.
Wow! I bet you Asa Hutchinson wasn’t expecting this pushback on MSNBC. He’s their type of Republican and he still isn’t sufficiently anti-Trump enough for these vultures. pic.twitter.com/f6YPcytLzE
— Kevin Tober (@KevinTober94) August 21, 2023
JOLLY: I’m honestly, in real-time, a bit taken aback. Governor, I don’t understand what you just said, that you don’t think he’s qualified to be president, and you don’t support him, but you would support him. I apologize, I’m at a bit of a pause. I don’t understand what you just said.
WALLACE: Well, actually David is a lawyer, I’m not. Do you want to take another stab at that governor, helping us understand?
HUTCHINSON: I said, on the pledge, that I will support the nominee of the party. That’s what I said. I can in good conscious sign that because I believe that I’ll be the nominee of the party or somebody else on the stage Wednesday night. Donald Trump hasn’t signed that, Donald Trump is not going to participate in that so I expect the nominee of the party to be on the stage that Wendsney night. You can accept that or reject it, but that’s the basis by which I in good conscious could sign that pledge.
WALLACE: Governor, um…go ahead, David.
JOLLY: Yeah, if I may. If Donald Trump’s name appears as the Republican nominee, whether you think he’s qualified or he’s not, are you going to vote for Donald Trump next November if he’s the nominee of the Republican Party?
HUTCHINSON: Well, I don’t expect him to be the nominee of the party.
JOLLY: That’s not what I said, governor. Look, I support your spirit, but are you going to vote for Donald Trump as the Republican nominee if indeed he’s on the ballot in Arkansas where you’re registered to vote?
HUTCHINSON: And I hear you very clearly, exactly what you’re asking me, and I just gave you the answer that I am providing and signing that pledge based upon. You don’t have to accept it. I just gave you the answer.
At issue is the fact that Hutchinson has been vehemently anti-Trump but has now signed the pledge to support the eventual nominee of the Republican Party. As of this writing, Donald Trump leads that race by a sizable margin. Given that, the questions of Hutchinson are fair, though I understand the smarminess of MSNBC is on display in asking them.
It should not be that hard to answer a simple question about whether one will vote for Donald Trump or not. In fact, Hutchinson missed a lay-up but not simply saying that the pledge doesn’t require him to vote for Trump (or any nominee). Rather, it just says he has to support the eventual nominee. It doesn’t even say you have to go as far as endorsing that nominee.
I affirm that if I do not win the 2024 Republican nomination for President of the United States, I will honor the will of the primary voters and support the Republican presidential nominee in order to save our country and beat Joe Biden
Putting myself in Hutchinson’s shoes, the right argument would then be as follows: I signed the pledge and intend to honor it because I felt that was a cost worth paying to get on the debate stage and get my message out there. So yes, I will eventually support the GOP nominee, but who I personally vote for is not part of the pledge nor anyone else’s concern.
The RNC has a rule that you can’t sign the pledge in a sarcastic manner, but the above would not be doing that. It would be making a political calculation that debating is worth more than withholding support if Trump is the nominee.
Hutchinson didn’t do that, though. Instead, he chose to play coy on one of the most far-left news programs in existence. Obviously, that didn’t go well for him, and it was a miscalculation. The former governor has to realize that you can never be Never Trump enough for the MSNBC crowd as long as you abide by the Republican Party apparatus. They demand total subservience, and part of that is being willing to nuke the GOP into oblivion in the general election. You either go full Will Hurd or you are the enemy. Perhaps Hutchinson will learn that lesson, but I wouldn’t bet on it.