The following is a transcript of an interview with former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan that aired on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, March 5, 2023.
ROBERT COSTA: Governor Hogan, thank you for having a conversation with us. For so many months now, you’ve been considering a run for the Republican presidential nomination. Have you made a decision?
GOV. HOGAN: I have Bob, you know, I, I just want to thank the people all across the country that have been encouraging me to consider running for president. I was flattered by that and I did give it serious consideration and I talked to people everywhere and I talked to my family. And it was a tough decision. But I’ve decided that I will not be a candidate for the Republican nomination for president. I care very deeply about the country and my party. I think I’ve been a voice of reason to try to get us back to a place where we have a more hopeful, positive vision for America. I think we’ve made a difference and I don’t plan on walking away. I’m going to continue to stay involved in that fight for the soul of the Republican Party, but I’m just not going to do it as a candidate for president.
ROBERT COSTA: You think by sitting out – the field, maybe it’s a little tighter.
GOV. HOGAN: I hope so.
ROBERT COSTA: It’s a little harder for Trump to get that nomination.
GOV. HOGAN: I sure hope so.
GOV. HOGAN: I was struggling, because my heart was telling me to run. My head was telling me no, that just does not make sense for a whole host of reasons. And my gut was flipping back and forth. So it really came down to – if I wasn’t 100 percent convinced, then I shouldn’t do it.
ROBERT COSTA: You were torn.
GOV. HOGAN: I was torn.
ROBERT COSTA: Toughest decision of your political career?
GOV. HOGAN: Absolutely. Toughest decision I ever made.
ROBERT COSTA: Politically, by staying out of the race – it’s a smaller field, may be tougher for Trump to get the nomination?
GOV. HOGAN: I didn’t want to have a pile up of a bunch of people fighting. Right now, you have, you know, Trump and DeSantis at the top of the field, they’re soaking up all the oxygen, getting all the attention. And then a whole lot of the rest of us in single digits, and the more of them you have, the less chance you have for somebody rising up.
ROBERT COSTA: You’re a traditional Republican. You have long defined yourself as a conservative Republican. Did you look at this race and say, ‘The path for a Republican like me, like Larry Hogan, is maybe too narrow’?
GOV HOGAN: Well, there’s no question it was, it’s challenging. There’s a big, big fight for the, I would say, the heart and soul of the Republican Party that I’ve been talking about for years. It’s still going on. We’re making progress, though. I mean, it went from about 90 percent of the Republican primary base was behind Trump, to about 60 percent after January 6, to, it’s down to about 30 percent now. There- there’s about two-thirds of the people in the Republican Party, while they might have supported Trump and Trump’s policies, they really are ready to consider moving in a different direction.
ROBERT COSTA: But he’s still leading the polls.
GOV. HOGAN: He’s leading in the polls, and there’s no question it’s- he’s a formidable challenge. But I think, you know, a year is an eternity in politics and the first primaries are about a year away. So I think what it looks like today could be completely different than what it looks like a year from now.
ROBERT COSTA: You are a two-term governor, just left office, you’ve long been connected to the legacy of Ronald Reagan, conservative movement politics. Is your decision to not run in 2024, in any way, an acknowledgment that that party, that version of the Republican Party is fading or even gone?
GOV. HOGAN: You know, I don’t feel that way at all. I think we certainly went off in the wrong direction. And we’re not back on track. It’s gonna take a while. We’re not there yet. I would say the party of Reagan is not dead and neither is the party of Trump.
ROBERT COSTA: How serious is this moment for your party in terms of beating former President Trump? If he wins the White House again, what would that mean for American democracy?
GOV. HOGAN: Well, I’m- I’m hopeful that it’s not going to happen–
ROBERT COSTA: But what does it mean if it does?
GOV. HOGAN: Then I think it’s, we’re gonna have to do some soul searching. We’re gonna be digging out for a long time. But look, we’ve lost seven out of the last eight popular votes for- in the presidential race. And we’ve lost- we’ve had three horrible election cycles, where we should have done- had a huge pickup in the last election and we didn’t. We lost, before that, the Senate, the House, and the White House. We’ve got to start getting back to a party that- that people will vote for, or we don’t get to govern.
ROBERT COSTA: When you look at your effort to try to get the Republican Party to come back to its conservative roots, you’re facing a lot of obstacles. There’s a big battle over what the truth is. And the recent Dominion lawsuit against the- Fox News, the Fox Corporation, is one example of how there’s a real battle over whether election fraud happened or not. All these false claims of fraud are out there right now in the political discussion, especially on the right. What’s your response to the Dominion lawsuit against Fox News? And what does it reveal about the Republican Party and perhaps Fox News?
GOV. HOGAN: Well, I don’t know all the details of the Dominion lawsuit, but I’m certainly following the controversy. And it’s not- it doesn’t come as a surprise, because for years, we’ve had people who- you know, I would hear from elected officials, and leaders of the party, and people in Congress, or fellow governors, or people in conservative media that would say privately, something- I was always telling the truth. And I was, you know, sometimes criticized for it. But I always stood up and said exactly what I thought. People would say to me, “Oh, I agree with what you’re saying. But I can’t say it.” Or they would, you know, they would be you know, they would know the truth, but say something different just to win votes. And I think that’s part of the problem. And I think we’ve got to get back to truth telling. And we’ve got to stop the conspiracy theories. It’s why we lost all the elections in-in this last race. I mean, the people that were spouting election lies, and that were saying that nothing happened on January 6th, or that the- the pandemic was- was fake, the virus didn’t happen. They all lost, and the people who actually won were the common sense, conservative Republicans like me, who were actually able to win swing votes, and that were talking about issues like the economy like crime and education. They were focused on things people cared about. We can’t keep looking backward and we can’t keep, you know, denying facts.
ROBERT COSTA: Is Governor DeSantis somebody you could see yourself supporting as the non-Trump candidate in your party?
GOV. HOGAN: Well look, the people of Florida just overwhelmingly elected Ron DeSantis. I’ve said earlier that I think governors are a good training ground to become president. We have a lot of great governors to consider. I, you know, maybe Ron DeSantis and I have different styles. But, you know, certainly he’s- he’s got every right to get out there and make the case.
ROBERT COSTA: Where do you stand on Governor DeSantis’s efforts to counter Disney and its self-governing zone in Florida?
GOV. HOGAN: The controversy to me was about telling a business that if you don’t agree with me, I’m going to put you out of business or take it over. And I’m a- I’m a traditional kind of small government, conservative Republican who doesn’t believe in heavy-handed, you know, local governments telling businesses what to do. So we come at it from a different perspective. It’s not about the- the- the issues themselves that they were fighting over, but how- how it’s being handled, I would disagree with
ROBERT COSTA: He’s talking about his battles with what he calls, “woke” culture. What is the DeSantis approach- tell you about his politics?
GOV. HOGAN: Well, I think he’s going right after the Trump base, and he wants to be, I think, the younger, you know, version of Donald Trump, and you know, he’s trying to fire up the base, which is okay. And it may be a good strategy to win a primary, but my point was you- you have to actually focus on winning swing voters as well. Or, you know, we’ll have Joe Biden as president and that’s not what we need.
ROBERT COSTA: How rough could it get, DeSantis versus Trump?
GOV. HOGAN: Could get rough. You know, time will tell. It’s going to be very interesting. Joe Biden is not the guy who should be the next president. And I think most people would agree. But you can’t beat somebody with nobody. We have to come up with the best candidate.
ROBERT COSTA: You’ve been friendly with former Vice President Mike Pence – someone you could support?
GOV. HOGAN: Absolutely. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mike Pence. And I thought he certainly, you know, is the kind of guy- he’s full of integrity and experience.
ROBERT COSTA: And if another potential contender is listening to you today. What do you hope they hear from this decision, from your move?
GOV. HOGAN: I love competition, and I hate coronation. My advice would be don’t run just because you want to get your name known, or you want to be on TV, or you want to write a book, or get a TV deal, or because you want to be a cabinet secretary. You should only run if you believe that you’re capable and qualified and that you have a real chance to be the- not only the nominee, but the next president.
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