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Transcript: Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on "Face the Nation," Jan. 14, 2024

Hutchinson: Trump has "redefined the party"
2024 GOP hopeful Asa Hutchinson says Trump has "redefined the party and not in a good way" 05:01

The following is a transcript of an interview with 2024 Republican presidentidal candidate former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson that aired on Jan. 14, 2024.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We go back now to the Republican presidential primary contest and candidate Asa Hutchinson, who is joining us from Des Moines. You were sir a two-term governor, you helped found Homeland security, you ran the DEA, you were member of Congress. But Donald Trump has remade your party. How do you define who your supporters are?

ASA HUTCHINSON: Well, first of all, you're correct. Uh, he has redefined the Republican party and not in a good way and whenever you look at what I'm trying to do is draw attention to the fact that Donald Trump is a weak candidate for us going into the general election. I think the CBS poll that you cited today reflects that, the one person that ought to enjoy that poll is Joe Biden with Trump having that kind of a lead in the primary, my responsibility and other candidates is to take on the front runner if you don't agree that he's the right one, we've been doing that and there might be a short term price for that, but long term fear, fear-mongering, and grievances only take you so far. And so that is the sign of a weak candidate as you go further into this election year, so the voice is critically important, to alert people that we can't mislead our voters and say January 6th was somehow a patriotic act. It was an attack on our capital, the rule of law in Congress and we cannot buy into that misleading by Donald Trump.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So sir, our CBS polling shows 81% of Republican primary voters say they agree with the statement that immigrants are poisoning the blood of the country. what do you think of that statement? an-and why is that resonating with self-identified Republican voters?

ASA HUTCHINSON: Well because there's incredible concern about the border. As you talk to voters here in Iowa. Their number one concern is economy equal to that is border security. And so, uh, I don't like his inflammatory language, I would never use that. Immigrants are important to our country, but we have to have the legal process and people are upset with the Biden administration and the porous border. That's why I can make the case effectively that I'm the only one running for president whose actually had that responsibility of securing the border that resonates as well and I would rather talk about it in terms of what we need to do versus the pejorative of rhetoric that really misleads people and hurts people.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Fentanyl is driving one of the deadliest dru-drug crisis in this country's history and most of that, I think you know comes in through those legal ports of entry into the United States, but most of your competitors are squarely blaming China, squarely blaming Mexico. They do have rules here as you know, but how would you deal with the overall crisis in America?

ASA HUTCHINSON: Well, uh, you have to do it by partnering with Mexico to go after the cartels who are responsible for bringing the fentanyl in. They should be declared foreign terrorist organizations, but your point is very well taken. They're smuggling that through the ports of entries and I saw Senator Manchin talking about, we need to close down the border, What's he talking about? Is he talking about the ports of entry or between the ports of entry?


ASA HUTCHINSON:  And surely you don't want to shut down all of our commerce it would hurt America if we did that and so we gotta use better technologies and you've gotta partner with Mexico and use economic pressure to accomplish that. And then we have-we cannot neglect the importance of educating our young people about the risk of buying a Percocet pill on the street and how that could be laced with fentanyl. 


ASA HUTCHINSON: But we've got to increase our drug treatment resources. All of that's a part of my plan based upon my experience as head of the DEA.

MARGARET BRENNAN: When you say economic pressure on Mexico, are you talking about shutting down temporarily, transit between the two as President Biden had to do in December? Or are you talking about putting tariffs on Mexico? Like Donald Trump says he wants to do.

ASA HUTCHINSON: Well, neither we're gonna be returning, manufacturing back from, China and, the president can help lead and say, some of that's gonna wind up in Mexico and our economic partnership's important. But as president, I will discourage that return of manufacturing to Mexico if they don't support the rule of law and partner with us. So there's a differe-different levels of economic pressure. And sure, I think that we have to take strong measures to get their attention to help us but I think you can do that without hurting American businesses that rely upon that cross-border commerce.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Asa Hutchinson. Thank you for joining us today.

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