GOP 2024 hopeful appears to draw only six people to Iowa campaign event

Arkansas governor, Asa Hutchinson, is polling at one per cent

Abe Asher
Wednesday 12 July 2023 21:04 BST
GOP governor Asa Hutchinson says 'Trump is dividing our party'

Asa Hutchinson’s longshot campaign for the Republican nomination for president appears to be struggling to generate interest in Iowa.

A photograph shared on Twitter of Mr Hutchinson’s event on Tuesday in the small Iowa town of Nevada appeared to show just six people in the audience as the former Arkansas governor spoke. The photograph was tweeted by Nevada Mayor Brett Barker, who also serves as a senior policy adviser for the Iowa Pharmacy Association.

“Thanks to Governor @AsaHutchinson for visiting Nevada and answering questions from voters today!” Mr Barker tweeted.

Mr Hutchinson may have preferred that he didn’t. The former governor, who has been a recent critic of former President Donald Trump and the far right wing of party, did not feature any images or press coverage of the event on his own social media platforms.

A story about Mr Hutchinson’s trip to Nevada in the Iowa State Daily noted that he “spoke with several caucus-goers in downtown Nevada” and that he implored attendees at his event to donate just a single dollar to his campaign to help his chances of reaching the debate stage next month.

With its field of candidates standing at 13, the Republican National Committee has required that candidates must have 40,000 unique donors and at least 200 donors from 20 different states to qualify for the debate stages along with one per cent in three qualifying national polls and one per cent in a poll of an early state race.

Candidates like Mr Hutchinson are hoping, much as longshot Democratic candidates four years ago hoped, that the bright lights of the debate stage might help boost their messages and candidacies. Like Mr Hutchinson, Gov Doug Burgum of North Dakota and businessman Perry Johnson of Michigan are trying to entice people to give them the requiste donations to make the stage.

There’s also the issue of polling: Mr Hutchinson has polled at one or zero per cent of the vote in recent polls of the nominating contest and his favourability numbers continue to suggest that the majority of Americans do not know who he is.

When Mr Hutchinson has made headlines in recent months, it’s often been for his criticism of Mr Trump — he’s said he won’t vote for the former president if he’s convicted of a crime — or a defence of a decision to veto a bill from the Arkansas legislature that would have banned gender-confirming surgeries for youth. The state legislature ultimately overrode his veto.

For now, Mr Hutchinson continues to run uphill for president — an often humbling exercise.

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