As many of former Presidential Donald Trump's opponents in the 2024 Republican presidential primary have said they would pardon him if elected, one candidate said such discussions don't belong on the campaign trail.
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told Scripps News' "Morning Rush" on Wednesday that a pardon "should have no place in the campaign." Hutchinson has called on Trump to drop out of the race.
"That's a misuse of the pardon power and should have no place in a campaign or a serious discussion of the office of president," he said.
Hutchinson's comments come one day after Trump was arraigned on 37 felony counts, including charges that he mishandled classified documents. Trump pleaded not guilty to the charges on Tuesday.
"I have reviewed the indictment and they have a very good case, and I have to say today is not a very good day for Donald Trump," Hutchinson said. "And while he tried to turn this into a campaign rally, I think he understands the seriousness of this and how he's going to have to face a jury on this question."
Hutchinson noted that although Trump has a legal right to a speedy trial, the process could drag well into 2024. The timeline of a potential trial of Trump could coincide with the 2024 presidential election.
"Not just the defendant needs a speedy trial, but the public needs a speedy trial, the nation does, particularly whenever this is a shadow that hangs over our country; it's hard for us to deal with who's going to be the next commander in chief of our country with this kind of distraction," he said. "So I hope the course will move it along fairly but speedily."
Like most of Trump's rivals, Hutchinson is trailing in the polls. Only Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has consistently polled above 5% in surveys of likely Republican primary voters, according to data compiled by Real Clear Politics.
DeSantis has defended Trump and echoed many of the former president's talking points about the case. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, however, has been critical of Trump's handling of classified documents. In a CNN town hall on Tuesday, Christie called Trump's conduct "inexcusable."
"It is a very tight, very detailed evidence-laden indictment, and the conduct in there is awful," he said.
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