Gov. Larry Hogan (R-Md.) tells Axios he envisions a 2024 presidential primary field with 15 or more Republicans — not necessarily including former President Trump — scrambling for Trump’s base, while “I want to go in a completely different direction, and I think that lane is wide open.”
Driving the news: We spoke with Hogan ahead of his speech tonight at the Reagan Library in California. In prepared remarks reviewed by Axios, he doesn’t say he’s running but tells fellow Republicans, “We won’t win back the White House by nominating Donald Trump or a cheap impersonation of him. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
- Hogan is taking part in the “Time for Choosing” conservative speakers’ series.
The big picture: Hogan told Axios that after this year’s midterms “people will not be nearly as afraid and won’t feel like it’s a requirement to pair with what Trump’s saying or need his endorsement to win an election because, I think, most of the people that he’s endorsing are going to lose.”
Why it matters: His speech will be a roadmap for the themes of a potential Hogan campaign.
- “The truth is, the last election was not rigged and it wasn’t stolen … Jan. 6 was not a bunch of overeager tourists misbehaving,” he says in the prepared remarks.
- “The fact that so many politicians know that but repeat the lie is just more of the phony politics that has voters so fed up with Washington in the first place.”
- He blasts President Biden for promising to govern “from the center and unite the country, but instead he caters to the far-left extremes of his party and flails from crisis to crisis, showing weakness to the world.” Hogan hits Biden over inflation, crime and emboldening enemies and rivals from Russia and China to Iran and North Korea.
- But he said “Americans don’t just blame the Democratic Party” for a feeling the country is on the wrong track. “They’re fed up with the divisive politics and the extremes of both parties.”
What they’re saying: “I’m not convinced that Trump will be a candidate and I think it’ll be a wide-open field,” Hogan told Axios. “But I think it may be just the opposite of what happened in 2016.”
- “I think there may be 15 or 16 people running in the same lane, fishing in the same pond, trying to just appeal to base Trump voters,” he said.
- Hogan also told Axios: “I’ve never given any consideration to becoming an independent. Although I’m frustrated with where we are and where some of the other members of the party are … I want to do what I can to make a difference and steer us back to what I would would consider a more traditional Republican Party.”
Between the lines: The Reagan Library has become a platform for potential 2024 presidential contenders to test rhetoric and agenda.
- Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem all delivered remarks there in the past year.
- Hogan, who says he became a foot soldier in the Reagan Revolution from an early age, told Axios the venue is fitting for his speech given he thinks former President Reagan “would be somewhat frustrated and perhaps disgusted with the angry rhetoric and the kind of divisive politics [from the GOP] today.”
More from our interview: “President Trump is the 800-pound gorilla. He’s still popular among many segments of the base … but it’s diminished dramatically since the election.”
- He told Axios that Jan. 6 was “incited” by Trump’s lies about winning the 2020 election.
- He acknowledged that Florida’s GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis is an unnamed target of some of his speech’s criticism of fellow Republicans, and said, “If I were to give political advice to Ron DeSantis, I would say he should just focus on getting reelected in Florida.”
What’s next: The 2022 Maryland gubernatorial election will take place on Nov. 8. Hogan is term-limited and cannot seek re-election to a third consecutive term.
- He told Axios he’ll be more clear about his future political ambitions after the election.
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to note that Gov. Kristi Noem represents South Dakota, not North Dakota, and that Sen. Tim Scott represents South Carolina, not North Carolina.