Ho­gan urges GOP to look beyond ‘shrink­ing base’

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - News - BY ALEXAN­DER BURNS AND LISA LERER New York Times

Gov. Larry Ho­gan of Mary­land, a mod­er­ate Repub­li­can who is con­sid­er­ing a pri­mary chal­lenge to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, said Satur­day that Trump’s vic­tory in 2016 was an “anom­aly” and urged his party to work on ap­peal­ing to vot­ers out­side its “shrink­ing base.”

Ho­gan said in an in­ter­view that he was not ac­tively pre­par­ing to run against Trump and ac­knowl­edged that the pres­i­dent re­mained pop­u­lar with his fel­low Repub­li­cans. But in an in­ter­view dur­ing the Na­tional Gov­er­nors As­so­ci­a­tion con­fer­ence in Wash­ing­ton, Ho­gan said he was open to run­ning and lis­ten­ing to en­treaties from Trump’s Repub­li­can crit­ics.

Ho­gan, 62, said that while many Repub­li­can vot­ers feel a sense of loy­alty to a pres­i­dent from their party, he was not con­vinced that Trump had a “lock” on the Repub­li­can coali­tion. Cit­ing his own per­for­mance in the midterm elec­tions, when he won re-elec­tion hand­ily in a racially di­verse blue state, Ho­gan sug­gested he was the kind of leader who could broaden the party’s ap­peal.

“I think there are a lot of Repub­li­cans that are con­cerned about the fu­ture and that want us to con­tinue to be a big­ger tent and to reach a wider au­di­ence and to not alien­ate peo­ple and not to be as di­vi­sive,” Ho­gan said.

But Ho­gan also in­di­cated that he di­verges from much of the Repub­li­can base on im­por­tant mat­ters be­sides his un­fa­vor­able view of Trump. He crit­i­cized Repub­li­cans in Congress for hav­ing tried to re­peal the Af­ford­able Care Act with­out propos­ing a suit­able al­ter­na­tive and de­clined to ex­press a per­sonal as­sess­ment of whether the Se­nate had been right to con­firm Jus­tice Brett M. Ka­vanaugh to the Supreme Court.

And asked whether he be­lieved Roe v. Wade, which made abor­tion le­gal na­tion­wide, had been cor­rectly de­cided by the court, Ho­gan replied in the af­fir­ma­tive: “I think so.”

Ho­gan has said in the past that he is per­son­ally op­posed to abor­tion, but pledged not to try to im­pose re­stric­tions on the pro­ce­dure as gov­er­nor.

Of Ka­vanaugh, Ho­gan said he was sat­is­fied that the con­fir­ma­tion process had been car­ried out prop­erly, but he did not see it as his role to weigh in on the suit­abil­ity of Supreme Court nom­i­nees.

“The pres­i­dent ap­points, the Se­nate con­firms, they had a hear­ing,” Ho­gan said. “I’m not a part of it.”

Ho­gan said that if he were to run against Trump, they would “dif­fer quite a bit” on pol­icy, though he al­lowed that there would be ar­eas of over­lap. He has branded him­self in Mary­land as a fis­cal con­ser­va­tive fo­cused on job cre­ation and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, and he noted that in some re­spects his eco­nomic ideas would match those of the pres­i­dent.

“On the eco­nomic is­sues, some of it might be fairly sim­i­lar, and I think he’s done a fairly de­cent job on the econ­omy,” Ho­gan said, be­fore adding: “We might dif­fer on trade, we might dif­fer on many other things.”

Ho­gan said he had no time­line for de­cid­ing on a pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, but noted that win­ning can­di­dates in the past have waited un­til “late sum­mer or early fall” to launch their can­di­da­cies.

An­other mod­er­ate Repub­li­can from the East, for­mer Gov. Wil­liam F. Weld of Mas­sachusetts, has taken steps to op­pose Trump in the pri­maries and an­nounced the cre­ation of an ex­ploratory com­mit­tee this month.

Trump has opted not to go after Ho­gan per­son­ally, de­spite the pres­i­dent’s ten­dency to un­leash fe­ro­cious ret­ri­bu­tion on dis­si­dent fig­ures in his own party. Ho­gan said Trump main­tained that re­straint in a speech he gave to Repub­li­can gov­er­nors Fri­day night.

JOSE LUIS MAGANA AP

Mary­land Gov­er­nor Larry Ho­gan speaks Satur­day dur­ing the Na­tional Gov­er­nor As­so­ci­a­tion 2019 win­ter meet­ing in Wash­ing­ton.

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