Opinion

OPINION | GREG HARTON: Much of the GOP doesn’t want Hutchinson or anyone like him, to the detriment of all Americans

Asa Hutchinson, in my view, never had much of a chance of winning the U.S. presidency, but I acknowledge my political prognostications are as likely as not to come true.

I personally believe a President Hutchinson would lead this nation to a better place and in a better way than any of the current candidates. That's particularly true taking into account both the incumbent and the GOP's leading contender for the nomination. But I generally divorce my own desire of an outcome from what I think will happen. Voters over the years have shown collectively they behave in ways both promising and perplexing.

In other words, my predictions over the years would probably be measured around 50/50. That's not enough to take to Oaklawn or Saracen and walk out having beaten the house. Then again, the leadership of the United States ought not be viewed as a horse race, where only winning and losing counts.

Substance ought to matter, and Hutchinson certainly has enough of that to deserve more than his awful performance in the Iowa caucuses. That performance isn't a reflection on the candidate, but on what matters in GOP politics these days.

He wasn't Donald Trump or anything like him.

Many of my fellow Arkansans appear to want the former president to return to the White House in 2025. In my view, the best hope for the next four year involves a pragmatic and rational GOP nominee, which leaves Trump and Biden out of my equation.

Hutchinson told reporters he was driving back to Arkansas Tuesday after suspending his presidential campaign. He finished in sixth place in Iowa the day before, furthering my discomfort that Iowa and a handful of other states have such a heavy hand every election cycle in deciding the candidates the rest of the nation will be left to pick from.

Hutchinson's campaign continued to be in the news later in the week as the White House apologized to Arkansas' former governor for a tacky statement about his suspended campaign issued by Democratic National Committee Press Secretary Sarafina Chitika.

"This news comes as a shock to those of us who could've sworn he had already dropped out," Chitika said in a statement Tuesday. The statement drew jeers from some folks on both sides of the political spectrum.

Chitika should have known only Donald Trump can get away with such insulting and unnecessarily mean-spirited statements. Strangely, they seem to help Trump's pursuit of the White House. That's not praise, by the way.

"I am gratified that so many from both parties have rebuffed this type of ridicule as unnecessary and demeaning to all in the public arena," Hutchinson told the Democrat-Gazette. "From my standpoint, this is all very minor, but both parties need to rise above pettiness and focus on things that matter to Americans."

A level-headed response rather than a retort meant to out-insult anyone. What a concept.

Where does this leave Hutchinson? He's just the latest far more qualified candidate that at least a plurality of GOP voters can't seem to embrace as long as Donald Trump's promises of vengeance are an option. His supporters seem to like his style, which would be harmless except for the fact they appear willing to let him use government authority to dole out punishment to those who have crossed him.

It's not at all what we need a president of the United States concentrating on.

Can the GOP do better? I would hope the answer is yes, but all signs point to no.

I hope, though, I haven't suddenly gotten good at predictions.

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