- The Washington Times - Monday, November 16, 2020

Eyeing his own 2024 presidential bid, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan unloaded on President Trump on Monday, saying that while he struck a chord with some disaffected voters he was ineffective, spawned “toxic politics” that chased away suburban women and young voters, and showed a “loose affiliation with the truth.”

The two-term Republican governor said it’s time for Mr. Trump to concede he lost the presidential election, saying Democrat Joseph R. Biden scored “a pretty overwhelming victory.”

And he said as the GOP looks ahead to the next four years with Mr. Biden in the White House, it’s time for a recalibration that taps Mr. Trump’s outsider credentials, but combines it with bipartisan outreach that can get things done where the president failed.

“He wasn’t effective,” Mr. Hogan said in remarks at the Ronald Reagan Foundation.

Mr. Hogan during the campaign revealed he didn’t cast his ballot for Mr. Trump this year, instead writing in Reagan’s name.

He had been pondering a primary challenge to Mr. Trump, but ultimately decided against it. Mr. Hogan is term-limited and can’t run for reelection in 2022 but is eyeing 2024 for a White House bid.

On Monday, the governor combined a fierce critique of Mr. Trump with equally harsh words for the same insiders Mr. Trump ran against, or as he termed them, “the country club, Washington think tanks and the Senate cloakroom.”

Mr. Hogan said there’s 70% of the public fed up with politics, and feeling forgotten by Washington, or what The New York Times labeled the “exhausted majority.”

He said his 2014 win in solid-blue Maryland, his easy reelection in 2018, and his ongoing stellar approval ratings prove he can reach those folks — including the people Mr. Trump brought to the GOP.

“This was before Trump, when he was doing a reality TV show in 2014, I was appealing to those same people,” Mr. Hogan said. “I won blue-collar Democrats and union workers and all those folks, but we also reached out and built that broader coalition.”

And he rejected the comparison some GOP operatives have drawn between Reagan, who revived the GOP after the Watergate scandal, and Mr. Trump.

“The president did an excellent job of reaching the common average working person that I was talking about, but then turned off younger voters, suburban women and every other demographic, whereas Reagan was able to put them all together.”

Mr. Hogan said it’s rare for an incumbent president to lose — though it’s now happened four out of the last eight times a sitting president ran — and he said the GOP must grapple with why it happened to Mr. Trump.

His answers: Mr. Trump was too quick to stoke anger and engage in political combat, and too slow to build victories on policy.

“You talk about the wall, where Obama built more wall than Trump did,” the governor said.

David Weinman, political director at An America United, Mr. Hogan’s political operation, said the governor was talking about “new” wall.

He pointed to an Associated Press article that credited 130 miles of border fencing or vehicle barriers to President Obama’s watch, and to a San Antonio Express-News story from this summer that said just five “new miles” of wall had been erected under Mr. Trump.

Border Patrol figures show that more than 400 miles have actually been constructed since 2017, most of it replacing the obsolete versions built under the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations.

Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist with ties to the Trump White House, said picking a fight over the border wall with Mr. Trump showed a “misunderstanding” of the immigration issue.

He said the wall was emblematic of Mr. Trump’s willingness to take on Washington on issues such as immigration, where he defied party orthodoxy for both Republicans and Democrats, as part of a pro-worker, pro-jobs agenda.

Mr. O’Connell said the party’s 2024 nominee will have to build on that legacy, not attack it.

“He doesn’t get it yet,” Mr. O’Connell told The Washington Times. “He’s correct that the future of the Republican Party is a multiethnic working-class coalition. But beyond that, he doesn’t seem to understand what happened in this election. It seems to be more taking a jab at Trump and taking the side of Mitt Romney.”

Mr. Romney, the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee and now a senator from Utah, was one of the first top Republican officeholders to say Mr. Biden won, saying just days after the election that it was time the country “get behind” the Democrat.

Mr. Hogan is on board, too, saying while there may be questions about “a dozen votes or a couple hundred votes here and there,” it’s not going to swing the election. Mr. Trump, he said, should accept that outcome.

“The time has come,” Mr. Hogan said. “More and more people, very close supporters and friends of the president are giving him that advice, he’s just not listening.”

The governor said the coronavirus pandemic makes a transition to Mr. Biden an imperative, particularly if the country is going to keep the progress made on a vaccine.

“Two hundred thousand people are going to die between now and the inauguration,” he said.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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