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Larry Hogan says he will not seek Republican nomination for president in 2024

Washington — Former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan will not seek the Republican nomination for president, he told CBS News.

"It was a tough decision, but I've decided that I will not be a candidate for the Republican nomination for president," Hogan said in an interview with CBS News chief election and campaign correspondent Robert Costa.

The former Maryland governor, who left the post in January after serving two terms, said he gave "serious consideration" to mounting a bid for the White House in 2024, and said opting to stay out of the race was the "toughest decision I ever made."

"I care very deeply about the country and my party. I think I've been a voice of reason to try to get us back to a place where we have a more hopeful, positive vision for America," he said."I think we've made a difference and I don't plan on walking away. I'm going to continue to stay involved in that fight for the soul of the Republican Party, but I'm just not going to do it as a candidate for president."

Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on "Face the Nation" on March 5, 2023.  CBS News

Speculation about Hogan's political future and whether it included a campaign for the presidency mounted after he made visits last year to New Hampshire and Iowa, the first two states on the primary calendar. 

A critic of former President Donald Trump, Hogan told CBS News he believes his decision to step aside may make it more difficult for the former president to win the GOP presidential nomination.

"I didn't want to have a pile up of a bunch of people fighting," he said. "Right now, you have, you know, Trump and DeSantis at the top of the field, they're soaking up all the oxygen, getting all the attention. And then a whole lot of the rest of us in single digits, and the more of them you have, the less chance you have for somebody rising up."

The field of candidates seeking the Republican nomination for 2024 so far includes Trump, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and former biotech executive Vivek Ramaswamy, but it is expected to grow in the coming months. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is widely expected to mount a White House bid and is a frontrunner alongside Trump, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has indicated he, too, is considering a run, and former Vice President Mike Pence is also expected to enter the race.

With DeSantis the biggest threat to Trump, Hogan noted that Republicans appear to be moving away from the former president.

"He's leading in the polls, and there's no question he's a formidable challenge," he said of Trump. "But I think, you know, a year is an eternity in politics and the first primaries are about a year away. So I think what it looks like today could be completely different than what it looks like a year from now."

Trump delivered the keynote address at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday night after winning its straw poll of attendees. DeSantis ranked second behind the former president, though he declined an invitation to speak at the gathering.

While the annual event typically attracts many Republican presidential hopefuls, few — Haley, Ramaswamy and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — delivered speeches at this year's gathering. Instead, others including DeSantis, Pence, Sununu and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, appeared at a donor retreat hosted by the Club for Growth.

Trump criticized his potential 2024 rivals who were absent from CPAC in a post to his social media platform Truth Social on Thursday, claiming they were skipping the event because "the crowds have no interest in anything they have to say."

But some of Trump's opponents, Haley chief among them, have centered their messages to Republican voters and donors on the need to move away from the former president, though without mentioning him by name. In remarks at the Club for Growth retreat, Haley criticized the "last two Republican presidents" — Trump and George W. Bush — for growing the national debt and has taken aim at the party's record of losing the popular vote in recent presidential races. 

Hogan, too, warned though that if Trump wins the Republican nomination in 2024, the party will have to do some "soul-searching," and lamented that the GOP has lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight elections. Republicans have had "three horrible election cycles," he said, including the 2022 midterms, where the GOP won far fewer House seats than expected.

"We've got to start getting back to a party that people will vote for, or we don't get to govern," he said.

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