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White House apologizes after DNC mocks departed 2024 Republican contender

By Jake Beardslee · January 17, 2024

In brief…

  • White House apologized for DNC's dismissive comment about Hutchinson ending his 2024 bid
  • Press Secretary said Biden has "deep respect" for Hutchinson
  • Hutchinson was critical of Trump, refused to back him if nominated
  • He worked closely with Biden admin on pandemic response in 2021
The White House apologized to moderate Republican Asa Hutchinson for the DNC mocking him after he ended his 2024 presidential bid, given his cooperation with Biden and criticism of Trump.  Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America/Wikimedia

The White House apologized on Wednesday for a dismissive comment made by the Democratic National Committee about former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson’s recently ended 2024 presidential bid. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated that White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients called Hutchinson earlier that morning “to apologize on behalf of the president,” according to The Associated Press. She added that “President Biden has deep respect for Gov. Hutchinson and admires the race that he ran.”

The apology came after DNC press secretary Sarafina Chitika responded to Hutchinson dropping out of the race for the Republican nomination by saying “This news comes as a shock to those of us who could’ve sworn he had already dropped out.”

Hutchinson was one of the more moderate candidates in the GOP field and was openly critical of former President Donald Trump, unlike most others still running. He also refused to commit to supporting Trump if the former president ends up clinching the nomination again. Biden has made efforts to appeal to anti-Trump Republicans like Hutchinson to back his own likely 2024 bid.

Despite their political differences, Hutchinson worked closely with the Biden administration on pandemic response after the president took office in 2021, frequently coordinating with Zients. Their existing rapport likely contributed to the swift apology from the White House.

The DNC’s dismissive comment appeared to contradict Biden’s aim of attracting support from Republicans disillusioned with Trump. The apology indicates the White House was quick to distance itself from the controversial statement in order to preserve Biden’s efforts at bipartisan outreach.