Throughout my years of covering presidential politics and political campaigns, I’ve often thought I should start a one-man consulting firm, and for a hefty flat fee, advise potential candidates on whether or not they should run. Why I could save potential donors tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars.
Tongue planted firmly in cheek, of course, but then again…
Anyway, 2024 Republican presidential candidate and former governor of Arkansas Asa Hutchinson would be a perfect candidate for my first client.
So I’d have Hutchinson and his potential campaign manager come into my office and put on a dog and pony show explaining why the former governor should run for president, and why they think he could win. Then, they’d ask me what I think. After taking a nanosecond to analyze their plan, I’d give my advice in just three words:
“Oh, hell no.”
While I have nothing against Hutchinson — other than his Liz Cheney-like hatred of Donald Trump, and his delusional sense that he has a snowball’s chance of winning the GOP nomination — the guy is a dark horse at best. I mean, we’d need a spotlight to find him on a well-lighted track.
Nevertheless, Hutchinson told CNN on Sunday that he has officially qualified for Wednesday’s first GOP presidential debate.
I’m pleased to announce that we have met all the criteria that the RNC set to be on the debate stage. We’ve met the polling criteria and now we’ve met the 40,000 individual donor criteria.
It didn’t take long for the conversation to turn to Donald Trump, the elephant in the room — make that the elephant who apparently won’t be in the room at the debate in Milwaukee.
Trump reportedly intends to skip the debate and instead plans to post a pre-recorded interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson that will be released that night, according to a person briefed on the matter.
Trump advisors said the interview had already been recorded.
Hutchinson, one of the few Republicans who has been outwardly critical of Trump, told CNN he’s not sure if Trump is even constitutionally eligible to become president again.
I’m going to support the nominee of the party. I don’t expect it to be Donald Trump, and that question will come up in the debate to say for that, but what I want to point out is I’m not even sure he’s qualified to be the next president of the United States, and so, you can’t be asking us to support someone who is perhaps not even qualified under the Constitution. I’m referring to the 14th Amendment that a number of legal scholars said that he is disqualified because of his actions on January 6.
Hmm. I’m not fond of the overused “There’s a lot to unpack, here” thing, but I will say this:
Hutchinson’s reference to the U.S. Constitution points to the notion held by some legal scholars that Trump’s actions on and around Jan. 6, 2021, violated the 14th Amendment, and as a result, he should be disqualified from the presidency.
I’m neither an expert on the Constitution nor a legal scholar, so I won’t weigh in on the above one way or the other, despite the unknown numbers of keyboard jockeys across the fruited plain who are more than willing to share their “expert” (politically predisposed) opinions.
"You can't be asking us to support [Trump] who is perhaps not even qualified."
GOP presidential candidate Asa Hutchinson speaks with CNN's Kasie Hunt about qualifying for the first debate and whether he will sign the pledge to support the eventual nominee. @CNNSotu #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/4e6JrMBsvi
— CNN (@CNN) August 20, 2023
Hutchinson also offered his opinion on how such a “declaration” — disqualifying Trump from seeking the presidency — should come about.
There should be a court declaration, and so there would have to be a separate lawsuit that would be filed in which there would be a finding that the former president engaged in insurrection and that would disqualify him.
The other way would be that if a specific state made that determination on their own, that would put the burden of someone else challenging that. Either way, it winds up in court.
But I expect those lawsuits to be filed; I expect some states to take that action, but I think it’s serious jeopardy for Donald Trump under our Constitution, [to] not being qualified.
Speaking of lawsuits, this brings us to Special Counsel Jack Smith’s federal indictment of Trump on four counts, including conspiracy to “defraud the United States.”
The charges come less than two months after the Justice Department charged Trump with improperly handling classified documents, which he kept at his Mar-a-Lago home and allegedly shared with others in violation of the Espionage Act.
The Republican Party band plays on, which I suppose is a good thing.
Besides, all that popcorn’s not gonna eat itself.