Hogan urges GOP to look beyond ‘shrinking base’
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.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan speaks Saturday during the National Governor Association 2019 winter meeting in Washington.