Editor’s note: Our sister publication, the Iowa Capital Dispatch, has been monitoring the visits of potential 2024 presidential candidates to the Iowa State Fair — a must-do for ambitious pols — in Des Moines this week. Here’s the writeup of Hogan’s visit Thursday from reporter Robin Opsahl, followed by some additional information from Maryland Matters’ Josh Kurtz.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan spent his Thursday in the Iowa Pork Producers tent at the Iowa State Fair, flipping chops with Gov. Kim Reynolds.
His visit was a non-official — but required — stop for presidential candidates in the lead-up to the Iowa caucuses. But the Republican governor, known as a strong critic of former President Donald Trump, did not say whether he is planning a presidential run.
“I care about country and I care about our party and I definitely want to be a voice and I want to play some role in the future,” Hogan told the Des Moines Register Thursday. “Exactly what that is, I’m not quite sure.”
Regardless of his plans for 2024, Hogan’s time as Maryland’s top elected official is nearly over. Maryland has a two consecutive term limit for the office, and Hogan’s successor will be voted in this November.
Hogan’s replacement pick, Kelly Schulz, lost to far-right state legislator Dan Cox, who Trump endorsed in Maryland’s gubernatorial primary this July. Trump has not said whether he plans to run for president again in the next presidential election following his loss to President Joe Biden in 2020.
Ahead of his Iowa visit, Hogan unveiled a proposal to curb crime and help law enforcement. The plan includes increased funding for police and having federal prosecutors take on cases involving assault of police officers.
He spent Thursday morning in a roundtable discussion with U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra and local law enforcement in Boone. Hogan also planned to meet with first responders in Iowa to talk about the proposal.
The Republican governor also visited New Hampshire in July. Before this trip, Hogan last visited Iowa was in 2019 at a National Governors Association meeting.
On the air
Hogan began his Thursday as a guest on the syndicated radio program of conservative host Hugh Hewitt. The two discussed the FBI search of President Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago at length — Hogan has suggested that the Biden administration owes the American public an explanation — and then segued into a discussion of FBI agents living in Maryland, and the security needs of high-ranking federal officials who also live in the Free State.
Hewitt than asked Hogan for his opinion of legislation moving through Congress that would enable the IRS to hire 87,000 new agents.
“The IRS is getting 87,000 new employees, most of whom will be agents over 10 years, but that’s half the size of the Marine Corps,” Hewitt said. “That’s the Democrats’ answer to inflation. What do you think about that, Governor?”
Hogan replied, “Well, first of all, I’d rather have 87,000 more Marines than IRS agents, for sure.” He went on to call the move “outrageous,” and then went on a longer denunciation of Biden’s record.
“Joe Biden’s been a terrible president,” Hogan said. “The Democrats are in control of everything. All of those problems can be pinned directly to them. It should be a huge Republican year as long as we don’t blow it.”
Pressed by Hewitt about whether he plans to run for president, Hogan offered his regular answer that he’ll wait until his term ends next January before deciding. But Hewitt noted that the Republican National Committee may be setting up rules for candidate forums sooner rather than later, and he asked Hogan how he would want Maryland’s RNC members to proceed. When Hogan dodged the question, Hewitt argued that Republicans thrive when all their White House candidates are on a stage together.
“Oh, I think that’s very true,” Hogan replied. “I mean, we have a lot of, lots of diversity on different things, and we have different ways of coming about. But I think that the American people need to see and hear all of those different voices. I’m all about Ronald Reagan. I was a chairman of Youth For Reagan. I’m all about building a bigger tent. And so I think it’s important. The more we can get together, and the more you can hear, the more the merrier as far as I’m concerned. Candidates should get out there and be a voice.”
On Wednesday, Hogan’s lieutenant governor, Boyd Rutherford (R), went on WBAL Radio and suggested that Hogan should consider running for president as an independent. But he appears to have been riffing and freelancing.