As he continues to openly muse about mounting a 2020 Republican primary challenge to President Donald Trump, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he is “excited” about an upcoming trip to New Hampshire to “share some of [his] views,” but the visit shouldn’t be construed as a campaign stop.
Hogan told the ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein on the “Powerhouse Politics” podcast Tuesday that he’s not currently pursuing a presidential bid, but added that he has not yet ruled out the possibility.
Challenging a sitting president in a primary election is a “massive undertaking” that hasn’t succeeded since 1884, the governor acknowledged, adding that Trump still has support among many Republican primary voters.
But “if things were to change, and things do have a way of changing in this volatile environment that we’re in,” Hogan continued, “then all bets are off.”
In late April, Hogan will speak at a New Hampshire Institute of Politics “Politics and Eggs” event, a well-trodden stop on the presidential campaign trail.
“I’m just excited to get up there and share some of my views, but it doesn’t mean it’s any kind of an official announcement for anything,” Hogan said, explaining that the organization approached him about a visit shortly after his second inauguration, coinciding with a organic groundswell of interest from Trump-phobic Republicans.
“A lot of people have been approaching me from all directions, I think, because of maybe the way we’ve governed and the way we’ve been successful in appealing to a wider group of people,” the governor said. “And I believe that if the Republican Party is going to be at all successful we’ve got to find a way to appeal to more people and reach a wider audience.”
In Maryland — a consistently blue state in recent presidential elections and where Democrats control over two-thirds of both the state House of Delegates and state Senate — Hogan frequently touts his willingness and ability to work across the aisle. The governor said that bipartisanship is missing in Washington, creating an atmosphere of “divisiveness and dysfunction” that he is “fed up” with. He said he believes it is having an effect on the ongoing investigations into Trump’s alleged wrongdoings.
Hogan said Democrats appear to be overreaching, “maybe overplaying their hand, going a little bit crazy with so many investigations and so many different directions. And Republicans, you know, turning a blind eye and trying to just say ‘there’s nothing here.'”
He added, “And what we don’t have is somebody that’s saying, ‘let’s get to the facts.’ … I really think that we need to get this Mueller investigation completed. I believe that that’s a fair process. I believe that he’s a respectable guy who’s doing his best to get to the facts.”
Though he pointed out that he does not disagree “with every single thing that Trump stands for,” Hogan has not shied away from criticizing the president.
“I think we need some people that’ll stand up in the Republican Party and say when the president is wrong or when we disagree with things that he’s doing and I’ve not been afraid to do that,” Hogan said.
When the governor cast his ballot in the 2016 presidential election, he wrote in the name of his father, Lawrence Hogan, Sr., a former FBI agent and Georgetown University-trained lawyer who later represented Maryland in Congress and served on the House Judiciary Committee.
The elder Hogan was the first Republican to publicly support President Richard M. Nixon’s impeachment and the only Republican in Congress to vote for all three articles of impeachment.
Hogan described his father as a Nixon supporter and loyal Republican, and said that speaking out against the president was a painful experience.
“But years later he has a special place in history and people — even the ones that were mad at the time — say ‘what incredible courage that your dad showed,'” the governor said.
Some have drawn parallels to Hogan’s current position as a known critic and potential primary challenger of Trump. But Hogan pointed to differences between his father’s situation and his own.
“He saw all the evidence and was sitting in judgment. I haven’t seen any evidence. I don’t know what the status of the Mueller report is,” Hogan said. “I know what I read in the paper or what I see on television.”
Looking ahead, the governor shared that his outlook is shaped somewhat by his recent bout with Stage 3 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which he was diagnosed with 150 days into his first term in 2015. After 18 months of chemotherapy, Hogan was ultimately declared cancer-free.
“It made me look at things differently,” he said. “I got to understand how important [government] is and how it impacts families. But also, it made me appreciate that you never know how much time you have and we have to take advantage of every single day that we’re given.”
“And so that’s why I keep working hard and trying to make the most out of every day I’ve got,” Hogan added.