Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has ended his long-shot presidential bid on Tuesday, one day after a sixth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses.
Hutchinson, a prominent critic of former President Donald Trump, the race’s frontrunner, entered the race for the Republican presidential nomination in April of last year. He launched his campaign in the wake of Trump’s indictment by prosecutors in New York last March, urging the former president to drop out of the race after he was charged over alleged hush money payments to an adult film star during the 2016 campaign.
But Hutchinson’s message did not appear to gain much traction in the raucous and, at times, crowded Republican primary. On Monday night, Hutchinson garnered just 191 votes, or 0.2%, coming in sixth place behind Ryan Binkley, a little-known candidate who garnered 0.7% of the Iowa vote.
“I congratulate Donald J. Trump for his win last night in Iowa and to the other candidates who competed and garnered delegate support,” he said in a statement Tuesday. “Today, I am suspending my campaign for President and driving back to Arkansas. My message of being a principled Republican with experience and telling the truth about the current front runner did not sell in Iowa.”
Hutchinson becomes the second candidate to fall out of the race after the Iowa caucuses; entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy ended his campaign late Monday night and endorsed former President Trump after a fourth-place finish.
The former Arkansas governor was outspoken in his criticism of Trump, saying at the first Republican presidential debate that he would not back the former president if he was convicted in any of the four of the ongoing criminal cases against him. (Trump has pleaded not guilty in all four criminal cases, two of which are related to alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, and denied any wrongdoing.)
“I am not going to support somebody who’s been convicted of a serious felony or who is disqualified under our Constitution,” Hutchinson said, to some boos from the audience.
He failed to qualify for any of the Republican debates that followed.
In his campaign announcement last year in his hometown of Bentonville, Ark., Hutchinson pitched himself as a tough on crime candidate and argued he has the strongest resume of leadership on the state and federal level.
“In this campaign for president, I stand alone in terms of my experience, record and leadership,” Hutchinson said, speaking to a crowd of supporters in a plaza across from where he said he opened his first law office in the 1970s. “From Congress to the DEA to Homeland Security, I have served our country in times of crisis.”
“As governor of Arkansas, we cut taxes and created record surpluses, we increased pay for teachers, we reduced regulations, we recruited industry and the private sector grew by 100,000 jobs,” continued Hutchinson, who left office in January. His successor is Trump’s former press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Hutchinson leaned heavily on his career as a federal prosecutor, which began when he was appointed by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, and his leading roles in law enforcement agencies in the George W. Bush administration.
“My mettle has been tested. It was tested when I put on a flak jacket and assisted the FBI Hostage Rescue Team in negotiating the surrender of an armed terrorist group,” Hutchinson said. “My mettle was tested after the 9/11 attack when I was responsible for protecting the United States from another act of terrorism on U.S. soil.”
During his tenure in Congress, Hutchinson served as one of the Republican floor managers during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. After the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the National Rifle Association selected Hutchinson to lead a task force to study school safety.
Hutchinson supported many of Trump’s policies but began to break with him over his falsehoods about the 2020 presidential election. Hutchinson has also criticized Trump for the 2020 peace deal he negotiated with the Taliban and for high government spending in his administration, calling Trump “one of the reasons that we added to our national debt and our deficit.”
He was the first presidential candidate to call on Trump to step aside, charging that the former president’s legal woes are a distraction from issues facing the country.
The only candidates who remain in the race are Trump, Binkley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, the latter two of whom finished second and third in Iowa, respectively.
Spectrum News’ Joseph Konig and The Associated Press contributed to this report.