Asa Hutchinson in Columbia today

This afternoon, the Post & Courier held one of its Pints & Politics events at J’s Corner Restaurant & Bar (where Jaco’s used to be). It was sponsored by AARP.

It was the first one of these I’ve attended. I went because the guest was Asa Hutchinson, and I’d been wanting to hear him speak since reading a favorable column about him in The Boston Globe, after he had met with that editorial board recently. The headline was “New Hampshire, please consider Asa Hutchinson.”

I don’t live in New Hampshire, but I’ve considered him now, based on little beyond that column and hearing him this evening. So I’m just getting started, but I will say that he is now my favorite Republican candidate for president. Which, of course, isn’t saying much, but if Chris Christie wants to recapture the top spot on my Top Five Least Awful Republican Candidates list, he’s going to have to do a lot better.

Of course, you know Joe Biden’s my guy, and nobody else comes close. But Hutchinson is the least objectionable Republican, and that’s important to me. I keep dreaming of having another No Lose election like 2008, when I would have been happy to see either McCain or Obama in office. (I can dream, can’t I?) That involves, and the very least, having someone unobjectionable run against Joe.

And I must say I kind of actually like Hutchinson. I have a few objections to him, but the thing is, he seems to be a real Republican, a normal human being who isn’t out to destroy America. He talks about his admiration for Nixon and Reagan — neither of whom is a fave of mine, but I’d give a lot to have either of them before You Know Who, or any of his many imitators.

So I’ll be watching. In the meantime, I shot a few random minutes of video near the start of his conversation with Schuyler Kropf and Caitlin Byrd, and you see it above. Caitlin asked him for his “stump speech,” but they either got off-track on that, or he has the shortest stump speech I’ve ever heard.

Beyond that, a few points from the few notes I took:

  • When I mentioned that I had objections, that mostly came from when Caitlin asked him to rattle off in 30 seconds what he would do first if elected. He immediately mentioned some please-the-base stuff, starting with immigration. Of course, maybe she should have allowed him more than 30 seconds, so he could branch out more. Whatever, that was the low point.
  • One of the best things was that while he wasn’t shouting “I’m a Never Trumper!,” it’s fairly clear he comes pretty close, saying things like “Is that who we want to lead our country into the future?” He sees his mission as making the case that we need to go in another direction. As for the multiple indictments, he was very mildly critical of the case against Trump in Georgia, but that’s mainly because, as a former U.S. attorney himself, he thought Georgia should have sat back and let the federal indictments run their course.
  • Another fave moment for me — possibly because I’m still plodding through, but enjoying, Theodore Rex (I just moments ago finished reading about the Perdicaris affair in 1904, which “The Wind and the Lion” was very roughly based on) — was when Caitlin asked him to name his favorite president who was not named Reagan. He picked TR without having to think too hard. So bully for him!
  • Asked about Mitt Romney’s retirement and his copout comment about stepping aside for the “next generation,” Hutchinson — who is three years older than I am — had pretty much the same reaction I did. I didn’t get the whole quote, but he has the same impression of the GOP’s “next generation” that I do. He specifically mentioned Matt Gaetz, so….
  • I could have used a lot more talk about world affairs, beyond his discussion of drug trafficking from south of the border (based on his having headed the DEA — yeah, this is a guy with actual experience in federal government) and some generally positive statements about Ukraine. That is, that he’s for “standing with freedom against oppression.”
  • When Schuyler asked him what non-religious book he had on his bedside table, he said on this trip he’d been reading Abraham Lincoln’s Cooper Union speech. Not exactly a book, I guess, but much better reading than anything certain other people have ever tackled.
  • Being in South Carolina, he said some nice things about Nikki Haley. A bit too nice, I thought, when he praised her international experience.
  • On the other hand, I liked what he said about Henry. As you may know, Hutchinson got his bachelor’s degree from Bob Jones University. (Asked why, he said his pastor back in Arkansas had recommended it.) Then, he had intended to get his Juris Doctor from USC Law School, but ended up at the University of Arkansas School of Law. He speculates that had he stayed here, he would be governor of South Carolina, not Henry. I mean, he was just joking around, but it struck me as a fairly pleasant idea.
  • And while I don’t want to completely destroy his already-slim chances, he even sounded a bit like a Democrat a couple of times, for what it’s worth. For instance, he said some folks want to raise the age for receiving Social Security, but he thinks “how about the construction worker,” whose strength is not likely to hold up until 70? Bottom line is, he sounded overall like a center-right pol, from in the non-crazy days when the two parties weren’t all that far apart. In other words, he’s a Republican. And with Mitt Romney, John McCain and Lamar Alexander out of the picture (and Lindsey Graham now living on the far side of Alice’s Looking Glass), that makes him rare.

That’s it for now. I’ll be watching this guy as things progress.

33 thoughts on “Asa Hutchinson in Columbia today

  1. bud

    Brad, with all due respect, I think you’ve completely lost touch with reality. The GOP is not in any way shoe or form a party that someone like Asa Hutchinson really fits in with. Same with Chris Christie. They just don’t belong and it’s rather pointless to consider them. This is a party dominated by really bizarre Individuals like groper Lauren Bobert or pedophiles like Matt Gaetz and Gym Jorden or rapists like Donald Trump. I find it fascinating that people continue to flog this looong dead horse that some semblance of normalcy can still be found. It’s over. At this point I probably won’t vote in the primary next year. But if I did the ONLY consideration would be choosing the easiest to beat. Right now I’m just not sure who that is. I used to think it was Trump. Not so sure anymore. Polling suggests he’s surprisingly formidable in the general. Hard to believe but that seems to be the case. Unless things change he will be the Republican nominee.

    1. DougT

      Women will save the day for Dems next election. To have Kavanaugh, Alito and Thomas deciding women’s (non) rights will motivate that part of the base. Senate will be tough going because of the few Dem senators in red states, but hoping Biden will prevail.

  2. DougT

    Hutchinson made the rounds on several Sunday morning talk shows prior to announcing for Prez. Comparatively, I liked his calm demeanor and straight-talking style.

    Hutchinson went to Bob Jones? Um…nevermind.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Well, that’s the thing. He doesn’t seem like a Bob Jones grad. I find it satisfactory that when asked about it, he doesn’t so much stick up for his alma mater — or insult it, which would be tacky — as say his pastor recommended it. (Which suggests maybe Mama and Daddy made the decision.)

      Kids are impressionable, and I think that’s a fairly cool and civil way to handle the question…

    2. Ken

      Good friend of mine attended BJU. He said it had some really good science faculty. But that does that mean he’d endorse it. He compares being a student there to being a resident of East Germany: students were not trusted, so they were strictly monitored, controlled and disciplined for very minor infractions.

  3. Barry

    I will not be voting. I have revoked my own voter registration. My 20 and 22 year olds also did the same thing.

    After being accused of voter fraud in the 2020 election, I will not be apart of the voting process ever again.

    but I agree with you.

    lauren Boebert was openly fondling her date’s penis in a public venue awhile he rubbed her breasts. She the pulled the “Do you know who I am card” from her overly sexually stimulated bag of tricks.

    The local right wing radio show in Columbia hasn’t discussed it at all. per reports, Fox News has totally ignored (and banned) the story as a point of discussion by employees.

    the entire right wing media echo-space, including talk radio, has ignored the story.

    right wing “family values” hypocrites have done what we all expect: Mentioned it in passing and then ignored it.

    No “Christian leaders” sermonizing on tv about the lack of morality on display by the Conservative.

    Nothing from the Family Research Council and Tony Perkins who trip all over themselves to talk about the immorality of any Democrat that as so much mentions secular support for gay marriage. Nothing from Franklin “donate today” Graham.

    If a Democrat did anything close to that, the HOUSe would have hearings this week on it. Right wing media would explode. our (fake) “friends and neighbors” that care so much about Christian values would be on fire mad, calling democrats evil for supporting someone that would dare expose children to such behavior.

    just imagine if the person had been gay that did such a thing. The Fox News New York office might have spontaneously combusted live on the air along with all the “good Christians” everywhere.

    A former friend (and I am thankful he is long gone) of mine that comments on every Democrat that as so much gets a parking ticket (and yes, he has done that before) has not mentioned the story on his social media page. When someone posted about it, he deleted their comment. What a colossal hypocrite. I will always truly regret giving him even one second of my time.


  4. Barry

    As I was reading some news summaries this (Tuesday) evening, I came across an interesting trend I’ve noticed.

    We’ve all seen right wing Conservatives yelling about “woke” this and “woke” that. Everything is “woke.”
    Bread is “woke.” Sour cream is “woke.” My back porch is “woke.” Of course, that’s boring and mind-numbingly stupid- but we also know a certain segment of the population believes it and buys it.

    I noticed in some articles that right wing politicians in certain states running for governor in 2024 are running against “woke” policies and the “woke swamp” in their states.

    Of course, in every case, right wingers are in control of the entire legislature today. That includes the governor’s office, the attorney general and had been in full control for or years and years- some well over a decade.

    How ignorant are voters that buy silly campaigns that are running against “woke” policies when fellow right wingers have been in total control for years?

    very ignorant.

    and it will work because that’s where we are at.

  5. Barry

    I really thought Brad would have already posted this excellent story about Chapin teacher Mary Wood and the effort by the Chapin community to get this wonderful teacher fired.

    Those “good christians” were at it again.

    (What a disappointing milquetoast that superintendent is in Richland Lexington 5)

    Her Students Reported Her for a Lesson on Race. Can she trust them again?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I saw that in the Post. I take little interest in the battles over CRT. It’s a no-win war, fought by two sides who both lack any deep understanding of history. Every way I look at it, it’s depressing. And the two sides are so certain they are ABSOLUTELY right and fully informed.

      I love history. I love it more with every word of it I read. So I hate seeing it kicked around as yet another weapon in the never-ending in the mutual determination to show how horrible those OTHER people are…

      1. Barry

        There really aren’t 2 sides to this if the story is anywhere close to accurate.

        It’s clear the teacher presented the book, ask students to read it, critique it, provide their own opinions of it, and then also offered an alternative in requiring students to read a Donald Trump speech.

        What else can you ask an AP teacher to do in a class? These are not 1st graders. These are kids that expected to read critically and comment and back up their opinions with factual information. Reading The Pretty Red Truck isn’t likely to generate much value.

        interesting how no parents complained when the teacher asked the students to read a particular political candidate’s speech. Has Trump ever had a speech that didn’t make someone feel uncomfortable?

        These folks are hypocrites.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I didn’t say there were two sides to this particular story. I don’t know, because I didn’t read past the headline.

          I was simply trying to explain, simply and honestly, why stories about CRT battles are not among the hundreds of things I stop to read about, I don’t dare do such a thing.

          I mean, you know, I catch enough flak for not being interested in football… 🙂

          1. Barry

            You really should read past the headline in this story.

            I asked my wife to read it. As a teacher, she said it rang particularly true to her- with things that teachers have to put up – totally unreasonable expectations from people that could not last 1 day in a classroom themselves.

            It does a good job of describing the Chapin community. It doesn’t paint them negatively, but it does accurately describe the area as mostly white, and mostly made up of one political viewpoint (a viewpoint that is not very welcoming of people who don’t see things the exact same way).

            My wife says Chapin is an example of white flight because we both know several families that moved to Chapin for that reason.

            The best thing about the article is that it presented teacher Mary Wood as a real human being with a husband, a family, etc- a person with her own ideas and opinions- but who was intent on equipping her students with the ability to argue their own points of view – not her point of view.

            It also presented her as someone who valued listening to her students, not just talking to them.

            But even that wasn’t enough.

            I found the “parent” who spoke to the school board who brought up that she hoped everyone in the room was a Christian was noteworthy. Clearly, she was someone that would have been pushing her own agenda- trying to punish someone who wasn’t pushing an agenda.

            Finally, it’s also noteworthy that a small group of students didn’t complain to the teacher. Didn’t complain to the principal. They complained to the school board.

            How many high school students know who the school board members are?

            Sounds like some parents were too cowardly so they used their own kids to complain.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              I agree completely that teachers have to put up with “totally unreasonable expectations from people that could not last 1 day in a classroom themselves.”

              That’s a category that would include me. Which is why I’ve never given a moment’s thought to asking a teacher to teach Ta-Nehisi Coates, or insisting that she NOT teach Ta-Nehisi Coates.

              Although I wouldn’t choose him, based on what little of his I’ve read.

              Of course, I seldom read assigned books at the time when they were assigned. One I did read that comes to mind in this context was “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.” I even read it that very semester. It was great. Of course, it was written by Alex Haley, not Malcolm. But that probably made it better. (I was somewhat disappointed to read “revelations” about it recently, long after he was no longer around to defend himself.)

              I’ve never read Roots (although I watched the TV series back in the 70s). I picked up a copy for a song recently at the beach (library trying to get rid of books), but haven’t started it yet…

    2. bud

      Barry, how dare you bring up a story about the injustice of firing a dedicated teacher for no reason! You should be ashamed of your self for suggesting thin skinned conservatives are some kind of reactionary bigots. But never fear, the false equivalency cavalry will charge in to save the day! So let’s get back to discussing the merits of the former governor of Arkansas who’s polling at 0.4%. Now that’s an important discussion.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Oh please, Bud — really? Did I give anyone even the slightest grief for bringing up a story? I approved his comment, and politely explained why this is not among the thousands of things I like to engage with.

        But now I’ve spent the time doing that, and then spent the time reading — and approving — your comment giving me hell about it, and spent more time responding to you.

        How dare I, huh?

        And then, how dare I bring up something that doesn’t get covered to death in our ones-and-zeroes world — rational human beings trying to garner some attention and some traction. Yes, he is polling at embarrassingly low levels. That’s why I wrote about him — to take a tiny, tiny step toward drawing attention away from the screaming yahoos who are getting the support.

        That’s why I went to the event, and stayed up late processing the video and writing the post. It’s why I keep blogging — because there’s a lack of rational people in the public sphere these days, and they should be encouraged.

        Finally, this kind of reaction is why I don’t post new items on the blog more. I get a few minutes to write, and it all gets sucked up dealing with these kinds of reactions…

        Well, back to other things I have to do now…

  6. bud

    I agree that history is an important tool for our understanding of current events. Here’s an excerpt from a 1964 speech by Dr. Martin Luther King in response to critics suggesting the civil rights movement was going too fast. I suggest these sentiments are relevant today:

    “Charges that Negroes are going “too fast” are both cruel and dangerous. The Negro is not going nearly fast enough, and claims to the contrary only play into the hands of those who believe that violence is the only means by which the Negro will get anywhere.”

    The Chapin teacher story suggests more work remains to be done.

    1. Ken

      Yes, change needs to happen faster, not more slowly, as I indicated with my comment and link about ending The American Way of Life in another thread.
      Yes, that will spark backlash from reactionaries, conservatives and their foot-dragging fellow travellers.
      They will lose — eventually. But many will be hindered and/or hurt in the interim.

  7. Randle

    I like Asa Hutchinson, too, for many of the same reasons Brad gives. And this one above all: He understands and says out loud that Donald Trump is not fit to be president of the US, a rare and courageous statement for a member of his party.
    It would be a big relief to have a sane person as the Republican nominee for president; it’s highly unlikely, but at least we wouldn’t be faced with the possibility of electing an autocrat determined to undo our democracy.
    I just read that Hutchinson may not even qualified for the next debate. I’ll keep rooting for him — and for the country — even though he’s a long shot.

  8. Barry

    On Sirius 124 today at noon during Steve Scully’s show, they replayed the recent discussion between Sen Chris Coons and Sen Marco Rubio.

    It was sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Center. Great discussion. Covered a lot of issues. I thought Marco Rubio was a bit testy at times- a bit too much in my view, but overall he was good. Coons was great. He’s just a super person and very gracious.

    You can see it here

    This morning during the 11am-12noon segment on the Michael Smerconish show on Sirius 124, he talked with University of West Florida professor Dr Gil Fried about recent violence at athletic contests- including at high school football games. Dr. Fried does research in this area and consults with many groups including law enforcement across the country on how to manage risks related to large crowds

    South Carolina has seen violence in the last month at high school football games, including gun shots.

  9. Barry

    Move over right wing Conservative Lauren Boebert- not to be out-done

    Our very own “Good Christian family man” Congressman Jeff Duncan (yes, that’s one of the descriptions Jeff Duncan and his supporters use) is facing divorce.

    Fresh off of Jeff’s “Faith and Freedom” BBQ event attended by nearly every “Conservative” elected official in South Carolina where they pat each other on the back about how moral they are and how their morals are superior to anyone else’s, Jeff’s wife has filed for divorce because Jeff is having a sexual relationship with a DC lobbyist and also living with the woman.

    She also accuses him of other sexual affairs.


    1. Ken

      Even so, there’s a more than even chance he’ll be re-elected next year. After all, his supporters voted for a serial philanderer. So they’ve willingly crossed that bridge, twice over. As long as Duncan pledges to keep the “Biden Crime Family” under the gun and continue fighting the “radical left,” he’s their man.

      1. Doug Ross

        I remember Bill Clinton. Lying philanderer with a wife who blamed his young paramour.

        There is a zero percent chance that Monica was Bill’s last affair.

          1. Ken

            To clarify further. I don’t reject Duncan because he’s a hypocrite. (Though I do hold his “Christian” supporters’ feet to the fire on that count.) I reject Duncan because he’s a right-wing populist demagogue. And his “Brother in Christ” self-annointment is just part of his demagogic schtick.

        1. Barry

          I never voted for Bill Clinton. [edited]

          One reason was that right wingers (including elected ones- some that are huge Trump supporters now) kept telling me over and over and over- for years- that a fundamental lack of personal morals involving one’s own spouse was an automatic disqualification for public office –

          Right wingers like Mike Pence, Rush Limbaugh, dozens of local right wing talk radio hosts who went on radio screeds during the Clinton administration saying if you couldn’t be honest with your wife, you didn’t deserve to be elected to public office.

          you know – people like Jeff Duncan who is cheating on his wife right now and instead of leaving his adulterous partner and returning to South Carolina to save his marriage, has already said his priority is in Washington “working” for his district.

          not sure what “Christian” minister is famous for saying “When you are caught in adultery, the thing to do is keep living with your girlfriend and focus on your work. Your wife can fend for herself.”

          or current Republicans who link right wingers to Christianity and who call liberals evil – right wingers like Lauren Boebert who was playing with her date’s penis during a live performance at a Denver, Colorado arts center.

          To answer your other question about drag shows –

          Anyone with the slightest ability can look up “family friendly drag shows” online and see countless examples- some filmed at schools- some filmed at public venues- some filmed at corporate events, some filmed by perfectly fine families (even right wing ones) who hired drag queens to perform at birthday parties for children.

          Heck, you can actually read about right wing Republican like Kari Lake online that have hired drag queens to perform at their own home (with children present) before they realized that they could make a political issue out of it with a certain segment of the population that is naive enough to buy their phony outrage.

          “I’ve performed for Kari’s birthday, I’ve performed in her home (with children present,) – Rick Stevens wrote. Stevens has performed as Barbra Seville for over 2 decades.

          You’ll see and hear much more obscene stuff at a Republican fundraiser or listening to Jeff Duncan rationalize his adultery.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Just reacting to the opening line (minus the ad hominem throwaway line that I deleted).

            I voted for Bill in 1992, although I would have been just as happy if Bush had won.

            By ’96, I’d had enough of him…


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