Larry Hogan lapping up 2020 attention but won’t commit to ‘kamikaze mission’ just to wound Trump – Washington Examiner

Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland is eagerly entertaining entreaties to challenge President Trump for the 2020 Republican nomination but concedes the president is too strong right now to make it worth his biting the bullet.

A handful of ardent “Never Trump” Republicans are urging Hogan to take on Trump. But the 62-year-old governor told the Washington Examiner he isn’t interested in launching “a kamikaze mission” just to wound the president and facilitate a general election victory for the eventual Democratic nominee.

Before Hogan forges ahead and assembles a 2020 campaign, he says he wants to see the president more vulnerable — more so than he appears presently, at least. And that, he suggested, might just happen. Alluding to special counsel Robert Mueller’s federal investigation into possible collusion with Russia in 2016, the governor said he expects the political damage to the president to pile up soon.

“If things stay the way they are, it doesn’t make too much sense,” Hogan said of a possible run, during an interview at a Washington hotel while in town for a National Governors Association conference. But he added: “I don’t think things are going to stay the way they are.”

Hogan said “there are a lot of people approaching me” and asking him to consider running for president. “I am listening to them. There are some pretty good arguments.”

“But I also understand the realities of how difficult a primary challenge is against a sitting, incumbent president. At this point in time I am not a candidate,” the governor said.

Hogan defied the odds to win re-election in November, triumphing in one of the bluest states in the nation in an otherwise awful midterm election for the Republican Party. The governor cruised to a second term by garnering the support of women and minority voters, key blocs that have eluded Republicans.

All of that has made Hogan an attractive choice for the small coterie of Republicans desperate to dislodge Trump.

Hogan describes himself as a “moderate conservative” from the Ronald Reagan wing of the Republican Party. At times, he sounds as if he is itching to challenge Trump and take back the party from the nationalist, populist trajectory the president put it on four years ago.

“I think it’s the divisive, angry rhetoric,” Hogan said. “It’s hurtful to the country and I think it’s making him less effective as a president. I think it’s not helping the party and it’s why we lost a lot of races, and I don’t think it’s good for the country.”

Hogan also professed concern with the direction of the Democratic Party, saying the unfolding presidential primary on the other side, with leading candidates supporting a quasi-socialist agenda, is giving him pause as he considers whether joining the fray could help elect a Democrat.

“There are people who don’t like the president who are just, we can’t possibly have one of these far-left Democrats,” he said. “It may come down to a choice of a lesser of two evils.”

Hogan confirmed that he has been in touch with several Republican operatives about a possible presidential bid, including Bill Kristol and Sarah Longwell. The governor also has spoken with Jerry Taylor, who runs the Niskanen Center, a center-right think tank in Washington that is opposed to Trump.


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