MANCHESTER, N.H. — Maryland Governor Larry Hogan stressed more forcefully than before that he is seriously considering challenging President Trump for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination, but he said he is “not in any rush” to jump into the race any time soon.
Making his first trip to New Hampshire since the 2016 election, Hogan was the featured speaker at Politics and Eggs, a breakfast event with local business and civic leaders known as a spot that presidential candidates visit.
Previously, Hogan hadn’t ruled out challenging Trump, but Tuesday he said he was “seriously thinking” about it.
When asked whether he is more aggressively pursuing a run, he said “a growing number of people have been asking me to give it serious consideration and I felt an obligation that I needed to do that.”
Just last week, Trump officially got a primary challenger: former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld. Weld’s move marks the first time that a sitting president has faced a significant primary challenge since George H.W. Bush in 1992.
Hogan, meanwhile, is only the second Republican governor in Maryland’s history to win a second term and is currently ranked as second most popular governor in America, following only Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. These rankings and whether Hogan should enter the 2020 race were topics of conversation when the pair had lunch in Boston on Monday, Hogan said.
During his remarks in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Hogan introduced his style of leadership as “common sense pragmatism” and framed himself as a political moderate from a deeply blue state.
“We didn’t demand Republican solutions or Democratic solutions; we sought out bipartisan, common sense solutions that worked for the people of our state,” Hogan said.
Talking to reporters after the event, Hogan said he thinks it is smart for him to wait should he enter the race, largely because he believes his campaign would be significantly underfunded compared with Trump’s.
A shorter campaign “would be better for a challenger that didn’t have as much money, right?” Hogan said.
What polling exists in the early presidential primary states, like Iowa and New Hampshire, say two things: that the president is popular among the Republican base, and that a majority believe that the president should face a primary challenge.
Still, Hogan recognizes the Republican National Committee could make it harder for any Republican challenger to Trump to get traction.
“I think this is way beyond what the DNC did back in 2016,” Hogan said about the perception that the Democratic National Committee tipped the scales for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the Democratic contest that year. “I think [the RNC has] taken way more steps to try to stack the deck in favor of the president. I mean, I think it was wrong what the DNC did, but this is much worse.”
Hogan said that there isn’t a “decision matrix” on how he will decide whether to run but said he wouldn’t run just to “bruise the president.”
He is in the middle of a 16-state tour, which will include a stop in Salt Lake City, where he has been invited to speak by Utah Senator Mitt Romney and former US House speaker Paul Ryan.
“I am out there talking about the future of the country and I care about my party,” Hogan said. “I would not run just to be a spoiler to the president. I’ve got a state to run.”