(CNN) — The Republican governor of Arkansas, who had previously supported Donald Trump‘s reelection bid, said Sunday that he would not back the former President if he decided to run in 2024.
“No, I wouldn’t. It’s time,” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” when asked if he would support Trump in another presidential election cycle. “And he’s got a good family. I worked with Ivanka (Trump) and others and they love America. But I would not support him for reelection in 2024.”
The GOP is facing deep divisions on how to move forward as a party in a post-Trump era. Hutchinson told Bash on Sunday that while Trump will continue to have a voice in the Republican Party, the former President “should not define our future.”
“We’ve got to define it for ourselves and that has to be based upon the principles that gave really us the strength in America. We’ve got to respond to the people that like Trump. We’ve got to respond and identify with the issues that gave him the first election and gave him support throughout his presidency,” he said, adding that Republicans should reach out to voters using conservative principles.
“He’ll only define the party if we let him define our party,” he said.
Trump will speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, next Sunday, according to a source familiar with the matter, while former Vice President Mike Pence declined an invitation to speak at the conference, two sources told CNN.
The speaking engagement would mark Trump’s first public appearance following his departure from the White House last month and comes as senior Republicans are split over how to treat the former President, with his loyalists paying him visits recently in Florida.
For Hutchinson’s nephew, Arkansas state Sen. Jim Hendren, last month’s deadly riot at the US Capitol proved to be the “last straw” in his decision to leave the Republican Party.
During his interview with Bash, Hutchinson called his nephew’s decision “a warning sign” for the GOP.
“It saddens me and it’s certainly a warning sign to us that there is many out there that would like to see a more civil dialogue and so I have tremendous respect for his — what he announced or what he’s thinking there,” the governor said. “We’re going to work for a mutual goal in different ways.”
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, meanwhile, refused to say Sunday whether Trump bears responsibility for the deadly insurrection in an interview with ABC’s “This Week.”
“Surely there’s a lot of blame to go around but at the end of the day the people who stormed the Capitol, it was a disgrace, and they need to be held accountable, in fact over 180 have already been arrested and I know the FBI is working to root out every person who broke into the Capitol, who attacked police,” the Louisiana Republican told ABC’s Jonathan Karl.
“President Trump has denounced what happened and I think everybody should have been unequivocal in their denouncing what happened, not only on January 6, but during the summer when they were burning down cities, shooting cops, beating people in the streets,” he added.
CNN previously reported that Scalise had met privately with Trump at Mar-a-Lago last week.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also visited with the former President at Mar-a-Lago last month and most House Republicans — with the notable exception of GOP conference chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming — view Trump as a force in the party.
But Trump’s support is less pronounced in the Senate, where GOP leader Mitch McConnell and John Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican who faces reelection in South Dakota next year, have both worked to distance themselves from the former President in recent weeks.