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Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is out of the presidential race

Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson speaks during the Florida Freedom Summit held at the Gaylord Palms Resort on Nov. 4, 2023 in Kissimmee, Florida.
Joe Raedle
Getty Images
Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson speaks during the Florida Freedom Summit held at the Gaylord Palms Resort on Nov. 4, 2023 in Kissimmee, Florida.

Updated January 16, 2024 at 11:12 AM ET

After finishing a disappointing sixth in Monday's Iowa Caucus, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who failed to gain significant traction in a crowded Republican primary field, has dropped his presidential bid.

In a statement on X, the website formally known as Twitter, Hutchinson acknowledged that his message did not resonate in Iowa.

"My message of being a principled Republican with experience and telling the truth about the current front-runner did not sell in Iowa," he expressed.

"I stand by the campaign I ran," Hutchinson added.

Hutchinson, who struggled to capture national attention in a primary field dominated by former President Donald Trump, was continually low in the polls and failed to qualify for the second GOP primary debate in late September. He did not appear in any subsequent debates.

Hutchinson was appointed by Reagan as the youngest U.S. attorney in the country when he was 31 years-old and touted his record and experience in law enforcement. He served as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration in the George W. Bush administration. After serving two consecutive terms as his state's governor, he was barred by term limits from running again in 2022. He was succeeded by Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who served as Trump's press secretary in the White House. Sanders has endorsedher former boss.

Hutchinson ran on a traditionally conservative platform, telling voters in his announcement speech that he'd focus on the economy, crime, and border security.

"Our democracy demands America's best and I will bring out America's best," he said during his announcement speech.

As he did in his statement dropping out of the race, Hutchinson did not shy away from criticizing Trump.

"What I'm trying to do is draw attention to the fact that Donald Trump is a weak candidate for us going into the general election," he told CBS' Face the Nation the day before the Iowa caucuses.

Hutchinson, who struggled with a lack of national name recognition, wasbooedwhen speaking at the Florida Republican Party's annual Freedom Summit in November when he spoke about the chance Trump could get convicted.

"As someone who's been in the courtroom for over 25 years, as a federal prosecutor, and also in defending some of the most serious federal criminal cases, I can say that there is a significant likelihood that Donald Trump will be found guilty by a jury on a felony offense next year," he said.

Hutchinson added that Trump's cases and possible conviction pose a liability for the longevity of the Republican Party.

"It will make a difference for our chances to attract independent voters in November," he said. "It will make a difference for those down-ticket races for Congress and Senate, and it will weaken the GOP for decades to come."

Hutchinson told NPR in August that he thought the political winds would eventually shift away from Trump.

"I'm optimistic that over the course of time, people are going to evaluate the case, but also evaluate the candidates and say we need a new direction," he said.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jeongyoon Han
[Copyright 2024 NPR]