Asa Hutchinson sets new goal for 2024 campaign after missing debate requirement

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(WASHINGTON) -- Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson will continue his 2024 campaign for president despite failing to qualify for the second Republican presidential primary debate, but he set a new standard for himself late Monday to stay in the race beyond November.

"Despite falling short of the RNC's polling requirement for inclusion in the second Presidential Primary Debate, I will continue our campaign to bring out the best of America with events scheduled in Iowa, New Hampshire, and across the country in the next several weeks," Hutchinson said in a statement.

"My goal is to increase my polling numbers to 4% in an early state before Thanksgiving," he said. "If that goal is met, then I remain competitive and in contention for either Caucus Day or Primary Day."

Hutchinson is the only candidate who was at the first debate in Milwaukee in September to now not make the second stage on Wednesday.

He went on to say in his statement that he entered the race "because it is critically important for a leader within the Republican Party to stand up to Donald Trump" and teased a press conference that he'll hold in Detroit on Wednesday to "highlight [Trump's] false promises to blue collar and union workers in Michigan and across America."

Former President Trump will also be in Michigan on Wednesday to counter-program the debate with a rally in Clinton Township, as he tries to shore up support with auto workers amid the strike.

Seven candidates cleared all polling, donor and pledging benchmarks to participate in Wednesday's debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, the Republican National Committee confirmed on Monday night.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, biotech entrepreneur and commentator Vivek Ramaswamy, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum are all expected to participate. Trump, the front-runner, again declined to attend.

Candidates had until 48 hours prior to the debate to prove to the RNC that they'd hit at least 3% in three national polls or in a mix of national and early state polls recognized by the committee. They also had to show at least 50,000 individual donors to their campaigns, including a minimum of at least 200 unique donors per state in 20 states.

The former Arkansas governor, who is registering below 1% according to FiveThirtyEight's national polling average tracker, called into CNN late Monday to explain his self-imposed benchmark for staying in.

"We're going to continue the campaign. Whenever you look at where we need to be, I've set a goal to be at 4% by Thanksgiving or by the next debate. So, we set internal goals. We're not going to let everything be dictated by the standards that are set by the RNC," he told The Source.

"I know that there's going to be those that say we ought to step aside, but whenever you look at the role that Iowa and New Hampshire plays, we're going to continue to compete there and measure based upon the response we get in those states," he said.

When asked last week in New Hampshire if he would drop out if he didn't make the second debate stage, Hutchinson said he would talk to donors and self-evaluate.

"Right now, my message makes a difference," he told reporters. "I'm also raising issues on the direction of our party, and I'm fighting for the soul of the party and saying we don't need to go down the path of Donald Trump for another four years."

Wednesday, September 27, 2023 at 6:00AM by Libby Cathey, ABC News Permalink