Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is not saying if he would support former President Donald Trump as the GOP presidential nominee, noting he might have to pledge his support to participate in Republican debates.
Hutchinson, who launched his own presidential run last month, noted on Meet the Press Sunday that the Republican National Committee could require candidates to pledge to support the party’s nominee as a condition for participating in debates. The RNC has not yet announced its debate requirements. But Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told CNN earlier this year she expects the party will require a loyalty pledge.
“I expect to be on the debate stage. We’re still looking at what is required for that in terms of the pledge,” Hutchinson said when asked if he would support Trump as the party’s nominee. Trump’s team has indicated that Trump does intend to participate in the first debate in August.
Hutchinson has stood out in the Republican field as one of the few candidates willing to sharply criticize Trump. The former governor tied Trump to the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the building as Congress moved to certify Trump’s 2020 loss.
“Donald Trump has a moral responsibility for what happened on Jan. 6,” Hutchinson said. “The question is whether there is a criminal responsibility, and that’s a judgment that the Department of Justice is going to have to make.”
“I believe that we’re going to have — in America — to go in a different direction,” Hutchinson added. “But it’s going to be through the ballot box and not what happens in the courtroom.”