LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – One candidate you will see on the GOP Presidential debate stage Wednesday night is former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
This appearance was secured just days ago, as Hutchinson announced Sunday that he had met the Republican National Committee’s threshold.
The RNC required candidates to have support from at least 40,000 individual donors, and a polling threshold of at least one percent support in three qualifying national polls. They also had to sign a pledge to support whoever becomes the Republican nominee in the general election.
Back in April when Hutchinson announced he was running, he acknowledged in an interview with KARK 4 News that they had to get to work in terms of name recognition. The first challenge would be getting to the debate stage.
“It is fair to call me a long shot, but I think back to my duck hunting days, and I was known for making the long shot,” Hutchinson said in the April interview.
Political analyst Robert Coon with Impact Management Group said some were unsure he’d qualify.
“I think they clearly covered a lot of ground in a short period of time, so I think that in of itself is an accomplishment,” Coon said. “I don’t think two or three weeks ago everyone thought he would be there.”
Hutchinson ranks among the lower candidates when it comes to polling, though he has spent decades in public service, both at the state and federal level.
“Despite his track record of serving in different White House administrations and as Governor in Arkansas, he is not a household name in a lot of places,” Coon said.
As always, this first debate will focus on issues Republicans care about most. This will likely include topics related to abortion, illegal immigration and the southern border, foreign policy, and other Supreme Court issues.
Coon said Hutchinson should capitalize on those topics at the debate, considering his different forms of leadership where he dealt with various issues.
“For Asa, it will be about selling himself talking about his record and accomplishments, and then also his vision as president,” Coon said.
Still, one major talking point is expected to be former president Donald Trump, who has opted out of the debate for a pre-recorded interview with Tucker Carlson. That is said to stream at the same time of the debate on X, commonly known as Twitter.
Hutchinson has been one of the more outspoken candidates regarding his opposition to Trump running in the midst of his legal battles.
“Clearly his strategy is to draw sharp contrast there, and that is the lane in this primary that he has chosen, and that is the smaller lane from a candidate standpoint,” Coon said. “There is not necessarily a fault in trying to draw that line early on, it is just a question of whether or not that is what people want to hear.”
The debate will air at 8 p.m. on Fox News. Trump’s interview with Carlson is said to stream at the same time.