President Joe Biden on Wednesday dispatched his chief of staff to call the former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and apologize for a dig the Democratic National Committee took at him a day prior, just after he had dropped his campaign for president.
Hutchinson had been one of Donald Trump’s biggest critics from the right in his failed campaign, which he ended less than 24 hours after he finished a distant sixth in the Iowa caucuses.
The DNC looked to make light of Hutchinson’s performance in a statement sent to reporters shortly after his exit Tuesday, writing, “This news comes as a shock to those of us who could’ve sworn he had already dropped out.”
Karine Jean-Pierre, Biden’s press secretary, revealed during a Wednesday press briefing that Jeff Zients made the phone call after she was asked about the DNC’s statement.
Jean-Pierre said Biden has a “deep respect” for the former governor and “admires the race he ran.”
“The president knows him to be a man of principle who cares about our country and has a strong record of public service,” Jean-Pierre said. “This morning, the chief of staff here, Jeff Zients, called the governor to convey this and apologized for the statement that did not represent the president’s views.”
Hutchinson, 73, was governor of Arkansas between 2015 and 2023, with term limits keeping him from running for the position a third time. In his final term, he railed against Trump for trying to overturn the 202o election and insisted that Republicans who spread conspiracies about voter fraud should be kept out of leadership positions.
The then-governor said Trump was “dividing” the Republican Party in 2021, and that the GOP’s continued backing of him as the party’s leader would be a “recipe for disaster” in the 2022 midterms, which saw Democrats expand their majority in the Senate but lose control of the House of Representatives.