BENTONVILLE, Ark. – A former Arkansas governor is now an official 2024 presidential candidate.
This comes following the formal announcement from Asa Hutchinson Wednesday in Bentonville.
He made the announcement in his hometown of Bentonville on the Benton County Courthouse steps, the same place he announced his run for U.S. Senate 30 years ago. The state was blue at the time, and he did not quite taste victory just yet, though he began to win over time.
Now, 30 years later, Arkansas is a red state. Hutchinson said he believes his leadership nationally and statewide over the last three decades had an impact on that shift.
The speech started with a prayer from an Arkansas pastor.
“Father God, I pray most of all for favor, God. Our country needs help… God, I pray for Asa that he would be able to move the conversation toward thoughtfulness and truth, faith,” the pastor prayed.
Hutchinson was introduced by his wife, the former first lady of Arkansas, who now hopes to have that same title for the United States.
Once Hutchinson made it to the stage, he pointed to his resume for the job of president. Others who spoke before him, like former Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston, also made note of Hutchinson’s resume, saying he has a better resume for president than any other candidate.
“In this campaign for president, I stand alone in terms of my experience and record of leadership. From Congress to the DEA to Homeland Security, I have served our country in times of crisis,” Hutchinson said.
He also noted his service in Arkansas as governor for two terms. He led the state through the pandemic and said he helped keep schools and businesses open, even more than other red states.
Hutchinson told the crowd Wednesday that America needs to go in a new direction, thanks to the failed leadership under President Joe Biden.
He gave a list of solutions he could offer as president, like increasing border security, minimizing national debt, promoting pro-growth energy policies, and standing stronger with our allies – specifically in Ukraine right now against Russia.
Those promises resonated with people in the crowd who cheered between nearly every solution.
People of all ages listened to the speech, observing as supporters or even for educational purposes.
One Bentonville teacher, Renee Otts, brought students from her private school to witness it all.
“We are really watching to see what he is saying and what Joe Biden said yesterday, and take that apart,” she said. “What does that really mean?”
Otts noted that as a student herself, she often watched presidential campaign events from a tv screen. That is often how she teaches her kids when a national event is happening in real time.
“To be able to come and watch this in action is awesome,” she said.
When it comes to the state of our country, Hutchinson said it is time for new leadership, because President Biden is failing us.
Even in the Republican party, he said an alternative like him is needed.
“I am confident that America is ready to seek new frontiers, and that we are ready to channel the restless waves of our democracy into more freedom and more prosperity for those who follow after us,” he said.
Hutchinson ended his speech referencing a quote engraved on the courthouse behind him: Sovereignty rests with the people.
“This means that you will decide the direction of our nation,” Hutchinson said. “The fate of the world’s greatest democracy is in your hands. Thank you, Arkansas. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. May God bless the United States of America.”
While Hutchinson did not specifically reference other candidates in his speech Wednesday, in an interview with KARK 4 News on Monday, he said he is calling on former president Donald Trump to step aside from the race.
He noted that he does not believe Trump’s recent indictment is political, and he believes the former president needs to focus on his legal battle ahead instead of running again.
Hutchinson also said he feels he can beat Biden in a general election. The hurdle will be getting that GOP nomination against some other big names so far in the race, and some expected to come.
For this Arkansas GOP presidential candidate, though, the work heats up now. He is headed back to Iowa this weekend to continue campaigning ahead of the 2024 Iowa Caucus.