(Video: Fox News)
When the establishment side of the Republican Party talks about a big tent, more often than not they are treating the base as a fringe element set off to the side as they position themselves further toward the middle where centrist Democrats used to reside.
Outgoing Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) appeared to be doing exactly that when he joined Fox News host Bret Baier on “Fox News Sunday” to discuss the “important review” of the January 6 committee. As he reminded the host that he “always said we need to do this,” Hutchinson tried to blame former President Donald Trump as “politically [and] morally responsible” for the breach of the Capitol while leaving the door open for “criminal liability” as well.
“The whole premise of the hearing is that President Trump is criminally responsible,” the governor said before referencing former Attorney General Bill Barr who “has said, ‘I think that is a heavy lift.'”
Seeking a foothold between the Democrats and Trump supporters, he added that he did not “see the factual basis” for criminal charges but that he “would agree that [Trump] is politically, morally responsible for much of what has happened, but in terms of criminal liability, I think the committee has a long way to go before they could establish that.”
Hutchinson, who has been term-limited in his position as governor of Arkansas is serving out the last year of his administration and has not shied away from possible future political aspirations. During an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” in May he suggested he is considering a run for the presidency in 2024.
“You’ve got to get through, of course, this year. But that’s an option that’s on the table,” he stated before going on to add when it comes to Trump, “I’ve made it clear: I think we ought to have a different direction in the future. I think he did a lot of good things for our country, but we need to go a different direction.”
Hutchinson reiterated that stance with Baier noting, “I hope that the future of the Republican Party is different than former President Trump’s leadership. I hope we move in a different direction. I believe that what happened on January 6 is a lot at his feet. It was wrong for our country and for him to continue to push that theory I agree is the wrong direction for the Republican Party.”
Arkansas’ GOP governor regrets ban on mask mandates; DeSantis stands in breach for parents’ rights https://t.co/DlyVnrqyxJ pic.twitter.com/G3DkqRjOF3
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) August 5, 2021
The governor has waffled in the past when political pressure has grown too severe. After signing into law a ban on mask mandates in his state, he went on to say, “Yes, in hindsight, I wish that it had not become law,” demonstrating that his objective as a politician is to leave the door wide open to change his view as polling numbers dictate.
“I think there’s many Republicans that are looking for an offramp, new opportunities to find leadership in the future. Obviously what President Trump – there’s a lot of things that he did that were very good that the base and I agree with, but he got off track on January 6 and that was a costly error for our democracy,” Hutchinson suggested to Baier, “And I agree with a lot of the comments. He has responsibility there.”
The governor concluded on the topic, “Republicans need to do a lot of soul-searching as to what is the right thing here, what is the right thing to say for our party and our democracy and our future, and not simply appeal to the basic instincts of some of our base.”
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