Asa Hutchinson garners boos, extols Reagan, and ignores Trump at Colorado’s Western Conservative Summit

Asa Hutchinson
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks to reporters at the state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018, about a drop in the number of people enrolled in the state's Medicaid program. (Andrew DeMillo/AP)

Asa Hutchinson garners boos, extols Reagan, and ignores Trump at Colorado’s Western Conservative Summit

DENVER, Colorado Every one of Asa Hutchinson‘s 72 years was felt as the Republican presidential long shot spoke to hundreds of attendees at the Western Conservative Summit held by Colorado Christian University. The former Arkansas governor boasted about once running the Drug Enforcement Agency under George W. Bush and elicited a mixture of boos and tepid claps as he, one of the oldest speakers at the summit, took to the stage.

Although the Justice Department’s hotly anticipated 37-count indictment against Donald Trump dropped while Hutchinson spoke, the 2024 hopeful mostly ignored the former president, extolling the virtues of his predecessor, Ronald Reagan.

REPUBLICAN PRIMARY: BIG TENT OR BIG TOP?

“I’m one of those conservatives who still loves Reagan,” Hutchinson said in what may have been meant to be a laugh line but mostly fell flat. After promising to stand up for Taiwan and discussing the unprecedented crisis at the southern border, Hutchinson focused on his personal priority, the economy. While he was correct for targeting inflation, spurred by the Biden administration’s reckless spending, as the shared priority of the public, he added to his agenda, making “sure our interest rates are not hurting our American families.” At just 5%, the federal funds rate is actually a historical anomaly, below the 50-year average of 5.24%. Here Hutchinson misses the mark, falsely equating the cause — the proudly inflationary fiscal policy of the White House — with the inevitable, necessary, and virtuous result of interest rate increases.

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While nothing Hutchinson says is overtly disqualifying, though perhaps out of touch with post-Trump foreign policy realism and the zeitgeist of social conservatism, Hutchinson’s real failure is his refusal to make his case. Why, in a race against an octogenarian, should the GOP elect not the septuagenarian who happens to be a former president or one of the plenty of purple state, Gen X governors, but instead consider an aging former governor of a ruby red state with absolutely nothing new to bring to the conversation?

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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