>> How to save the Republican Party from Donald Trump, this week on "Firing Line."
>> We've got to be a party of principle rather than a party of personality.
All we've done is lose.
And, you know, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.
>> He served two terms as the GOP governor of deep-blue Maryland.
Governor Larry Hogan negotiated with Democrats to pass the largest tax-relief bill in Maryland's history... [ Cheers and applause ] ...and left office with a nearly 80% approval rating.
He didn't vote for Donald Trump -- twice -- and hasn't been afraid to say what he doesn't like about the current Republican Party.
>> A lot of the things that a lot of the candidates are talking about sound completely foreign to me.
It doesn't sound like the party that I've spent my life in.
>> Governor Hogan is clear -- he won't run for the GOP nomination because he thinks too many candidates will hand the nomination to Trump.
>> In 2016, there was, I think, 16 or 17 people running, and they all got tiny slices.
>> But would he run as an independent or third-party candidate?
What does Larry Hogan say now?
>> "Firing Line with Margaret Hoover" is made possible in part by... And by... Corporate funding is provided by... >> Governor Larry Hogan, welcome back to "Firing Line."
>> Thank you so much for having me.
It's great to be with you.
>> You recently announced that you will not seek the Republican nomination to be the president in 2024 because you don't want to "risk being part of another multi-car pileup that could potentially help Mr. Trump recapture the nomination."
Former President Trump only has two challengers right now -- former Governor and Ambassador Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy.
With two people in the race, explain why you're worried about joining a multi-car pileup.
>> I think there are probably six or eight people that aren't in the race yet but who will be.
And, you know, there's a lane of -- I would call it the "other than Trump" lane.
Right now, I see the party, there's about 30% that are in the Trump lane, about 30% that want sort of the next Trump, and they're in the Ron DeSantis lane, and then there's another 30% lane.
And I thought that was a great spot where I was, kind of a traditional Republican, more bigger-tent, more Reaganesque, old school, maybe the Republican wing of the Republican Party.
But I wasn't alone in that lane.
And if we have six or seven or eight candidates there, it's going to be very difficult for one of them to rise up.
So it was part of the decision-making.
I mean, part of it was simply, you know, personal decisions.
Did I want to put my family through that, what you have to go through, and was there a real path to success?
But part of it was more selfless.
Like, I want to stop Trump from being the nominee, and let me be the first one to do what I think is the right thing.
And I think -- I'm hoping that some other people will follow that.
>> And you think fewer is better in order to prevent Trump from getting the nomination?
>> I think when, in 2016, we saw that Trump was winning the early primary states with like 30% of the vote -- he didn't get a majority in any of them -- but the rest of the field, there was I think 16 or 17 people running, and they all got tiny slices.
And so we saw it already with the early polling where a whole bunch of people, and myself included, that were in single digits who were not, you know, getting traction.
There's just too many to choose from.
>> Is the best way to prevent Trump from getting the nomination for the field to winnow early so that Republican primary voters have a chance to support someone other than Donald Trump?
>> Well, I don't like coronations.
I don't like anointing someone to be the guy or the gal.
I think competition is good.
And so if people really have a voice and a passion, they believe they can make the best candidate, then I want them in the race.
>> But if they don't, they should not run for president -- if they are running for vice president or running for cabinet secretary or running to get more well-known so they could write a book or get on television.
>> I'm curious what your thoughts about Nikki Haley are, because she seems to be a person who has uniquely navigated Donald Trump's ire, successfully and truly, uniquely.
I mean, she's the only person who left the cabinet on her own terms and her own timing without him saying, "Don't let the door hit you on the way out."
Do you feel she might have some secret sauce that is being underestimated currently in the mainstream media?
>> I served with Nikki.
She was a governor when I came in and have a lot of respect for her.
She did a good job as governor of South Carolina.
She did handle the leaving the Trump administration probably better than others.
I think she has the skills.
I don't know if she's being underestimated.
I mean, she's been out there campaigning.
You know, she left her job almost five years ago.
She's been campaigning full-time and hasn't gotten the traction that I would have anticipated.
I think she's not performing at the level I would have expected.
I mean, she still has a chance to do that.
But she's got to decide on a message and a lane.
I'm concerned, you know, your message is this one day and your message is that the next day, and I've heard some of that.
>> Why does somebody have to pick a lane?
>> I don't think you have to pick a lane, but you have to be consistent.
I think it's really important to stick to what you believe in and continue to say the same things regardless of what's, you know, politically popular that day or that week.
And people, I think, they really respect authenticity and veracity and, you know, people that just tell it like it is.
>> Well, that was one of your trademarks.
That's one of your hallmarks.
It's probably one of the reasons you were, in some years, the most popular governor in America.
You've talked about the need for the Republican Party to broaden its base and to return to the sort of big-tent party.
You often hearken back to Ronald Reagan, the Republican wing of the Republican Party.
And you did this successfully as only the second Republican governor to be re-elected in Maryland, a blue state that Biden won by 30 points in 2020.
You put together a coalition that included women, African-Americans, Latino Americans, Independents, and Republicans.
Why isn't this a formula that could work at the national level?
>> Well, it is a formula that could work at the national level.
Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to be what the -- you know, the primary electorate is focused on.
So I think -- there's no question that we showed a better path forward.
When I got elected, I had to win all the Republicans, all the Independents, and about 30% of the Democrats.
Now, that's obviously a formula for success if we want to get back to being a party that governs again.
But in a general election, that ability to win swing voters is critically important.
It's the most important thing that we're lacking, which is why we've lost seven out of the last eight, you know, presidential votes.
So that brings us to the obvious conclusion that this is a problem with the Republican Party's primary process for selecting its nominees.
This is a problem with the primaries.
>> And it's not just the Republican primary.
I think the Democratic primary has a similar problem in that they tend to pay more attention to the candidates on the further left than the rest of the country.
And what happens, the process -- You know, there are about 16% of the people in America that believe they can self-identify as very progressive or very conservative, and yet those are the ones that pick our nominees.
And the other 70% of the people, nearly, are just simply what I call the frustrated majority.
They get to a general election and they say, "These are the two best candidates that we could come up with?"
They're focused on issues that the average American is not focused on.
Like, the average person in America right now is focused on the economy, on inflation.
They care about their jobs.
They care about taxes, crime in our cities.
And, you know, they want good schools for their kids.
They're not talking about the things that the right and the left are arguing about.
It's sort of the loudest, angriest voices get all of the attention while the rest of us just throw our hands up and say, "What the heck is wrong with these people?"
>> What do you think about the solutions for primary reform?
I mean, do you think about ranked-choice voting and open primaries as a possible reform?
>> Well, I think it is worth taking a look at.
There are a lot of potential reforms.
I pushed -- I was the only Republican governor in America to overturn, go to court, fight and win to throw out Democratic gerrymandered maps.
So I think gerrymandering is a terrible problem.
It's a cancer on our democracy.
Both parties do it.
Whoever has the power, you know, uses the power to their advantage.
So for Congress, I think doing away with gerrymandering, have nonpartisan independent redistricting commissions draw maps.
I think open primaries are really good where people, you know, independents and/or people of the other party could switch over to vote, which we now have in 18 of the first 24 states.
>> I mean, take Lisa Murkowski, who participated in an open primary and ranked-choice voting... >> Right.
>> ...is a Republican who was spared what would have been an annihilating closed partisan primary in her state.
This is a woman who voted to convict Donald Trump.
>> I mean, there's no way a primary Republican base in Alaska would have re-elected her, but she -- >> I think more people participating in the primary process -- Even with the existing rules, we should have more people show up, because sometimes only 20-some percent of the people show up in a primary.
So I'm for more voices and more people coming out and expressing their choices earlier on in the process, rather than waiting till Election Day in November when it's sometimes too late.
>> Well -- [ Scoffs ] >> Which we saw in the last election where we nominated all these kind of, you know, whack jobs in some cases in various states.
>> That's exactly what I -- I was actually gonna pick Maryland.
You endorsed a candidate in the GOP primary to be your replacement.
He lost to a conspiracy theorist MAGA supporter who you declined to endorse.
You left office with close to 80% approval rating.
And yet a majority of Maryland GOP primary voters say they would vote for Trump over Hogan in a GOP primary for president.
>> It's a -- It's a great question.
Yeah, it's concerning that a lot of the base -- Even though he lost by 31 points to Hillary and lost by 31 points to Joe Biden, they were like, "That's what we want.
We want to double down on failure.
Let's lose again."
As opposed to, you know, bei-- You know, "I was the second one re-elected in 247 years.
Maybe we should try that again."
>> Is what's happening at that level in Maryland a uniform experience in state parties across the country?
>> It's not happening in every single state, but we saw that in this past election.
It should have been a huge Republican year because of the failures of the Biden administration and the Democrats in Washington.
We should have picked up -- We should have won the Senate back.
We should have won more governors races.
We should have had a -- they were talking about picking up 40 or 50 seats in the House.
None of that happened because the state parties, you know, really were focusing on, some of them, on conspiracy theories, and relitigating the 2020 election, and talking about January 6th, and, you know, "the virus was fake," and all kinds of things like that that voters overwhelmingly rejected.
So where we had common sense, conservative, traditional Republicans like me, they all won.
But where we nominated these kind of wacky ones, they all lost.
>> In your announcement not to run for president, you wrote... What can Republicans who sympathize with your approach to policy do to ensure that the GOP hews to this vision?
>> I think we've got to have more people willing to speak out.
I've been speaking out about these things from the very beginning, and more and more people are starting to gain more courage.
There are a lot of people who would say privately -- I'm talking elected officials -- would say, "Hey, Gov, I agree 100% with what you said.
You know, I can't say it, but I'm glad you're saying it."
And I would say, "Why can't you say it?"
I mean, the reason they can't is 'cause they will lose their seats.
>> Well, but we've got to be able to stand up and do the right thing.
And, you know, we've got to be a party of principle rather than a party of personality.
It just won't -- It hasn't worked, right?
We lost the White House, we lost the Senate, we lost the House, we lost governor seats.
Trump said we were gonna be winning so much, we're gonna get tired of winning, but all we've done is lose.
And, you know, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.
>> What do you say to the "Never Trump" contingent of the Republican Party that is all but assured that Trump will get the nomination again.
>> I don't think it is all but assured.
Look, there are -- You can't say that all people who supported Trump are in the same boat.
And this is a distinction.
74 million people voted for Trump.
And a lot of them supported his policies, but they're now willing to consider someone else, a lot of them.
He's gonna continue to diminish.
I think there is a chance.
We've got to get the right candidate, and we've got to make sure that he's not the nominee.
>> You are succeeded by a Democrat, Wes Moore.
The conspiracy theorist didn't win.
And he's maintaining one of your policies, which drops college-degree requirements for half of Maryland's 38,000 state jobs.
You wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed... Are colleges and universities teaching people the skills they need to participate in the current workforce?
>> I think that there's multiple pathways to success and that we put too much stock in credentialism.
And what we found was that there were an awful lot of people who were really smart people that had great skills that could fill many jobs, really well-paying jobs, without the need for a college degree in things like cybersecurity and various healthcare technician fields where people can really come out and make six-figure incomes without having four years of college debt, without having a liberal arts degree and maybe, you know, sleeping on mom and dad's couch.
You know, not to take anything away from, you know, higher education, but many people can be successful, and we should be pushing more people into community colleges, certificate programs, apprenticeships.
We gave people credit for their military background, their previous work experience, and said, you know, "That's more valuable than just having a degree," and kicking them off the interview list if they don't have the credential.
>> What are the results?
>> Results have been fantastic.
So, we were able to fill a bunch of jobs that we couldn't fill and put a lot of people to work who are doing a great job.
And many other governors, including Democratic and Republican governors, are now trying to copy that.
>> You wrote in Ronald Reagan's name when you voted in 2020 rather than voting for Donald Trump or for Joe Biden.
In 1990, William F. Buckley Jr. sat down with Ronald Reagan in the original "Firing Line" program.
Here's what they talked about with respect to the deficit.
>> But that leaves us facing the deficit.
>> In the book, you bemoan your own inability to do something substantial about it, and when you considered whether you were running for the second term, you say, "Well, at least if I do, it'll give me, among other things, a chance to tame the deficit."
So even after four years, you thought you could do something about it, but you failed.
>> Well, my budgets, every one of them, the Congress put on the shelf and called them dead on arrival, and then would return to me, in place of a budget, a continuing resolution.
Now, that would be this high.
You are faced with either signing that entire document or vetoing it.
If you veto it, the government is out of business.
You can't even send out paychecks and so forth.
So you had to sign or else.
>> Reagan actually had a record eight shutdowns, many over domestic and defense funding priorities.
But fiscal responsibility was once a hallmark of the conservative movement.
What is the future, or what should be the path forward for Republicans?
>> I think we do have to get back to some of the traditional values of the Republican Party, including fiscal responsibility.
I mean, right now in Washington, we don't see fiscal responsibility in either party and hardly anybody focused on it.
>> One issue where this will come up is the debt limit.
We're going to hit the debt ceiling.
The U.S. is already taking extraordinary measures to keep paying the country's bills.
And it's expected that Republicans will use the raising of the debt ceiling as a cudgel to force new budgetary reforms.
What would you, Larry Hogan, as a successful Republican governor with a fiscally conservative record, counsel congressional Republicans to do in this moment, who are trying to restore a degree of fiscal responsibility?
>> Well, it's a great question, and I'm not sure I have a magic solution, but I was frustrated when the White House was saying, you know, "We're not budging, and my way or the highway."
And the Republicans were saying, "We're not budging, it's our way or the highway."
Well, nothing's ever going to get done.
You have to be willing to listen to the other side and at least sit down and try to see if you can find middle ground.
Because it's too important.
You know, it's more important than Democrats and Republicans.
It's about the country's future.
>> You've said that executives, governors in particular, make great candidates and ultimately great presidents because they've been in an executive position, they know how to negotiate with the legislature, and they know how to make hard decisions.
>> While you won't be running, Governor Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, Governor Glenn Youngkin of Virginia, Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, all are considering running.
Do you like any of them?
>> I like all of them.
They're all, you know, friends and, I think, good governors.
>> I mean, who among them do you think actually stands a chance at mounting a real challenge?
>> I don't think we know yet.
I like all of them.
I think they've all done a great job as governor.
I think they have skills.
But we're a year away from the first primary, and everybody's sort of rushing to judgment, like they always do.
A year out from the 2016 election, they said Jeb Bush, who was a great governor of Florida, that he was the next president.
He was at 30-something percent and Trump was at one.
You know, it was Scott Walker was a great governor who was going to be president.
And Rick Perry was a great governor who was going to be president.
So somebody's gonna shine, and somebody's gonna rise.
I can't tell you who it's going to be.
>> Well, you just cited several governors who were in the lead and then flamed out early.
DeSantis is in the lead, and Donald Trump has intensified his attacks around Governor DeSantis, particularly this week.
Is it possible that DeSantis will face the same fate that many of these Republican governors who have peaked early will face?
>> Well, it certainly is possible.
>> Do you think it's likely?
>> You know, history tends to repeat itself.
And I just gave you multiple examples of it.
So it's possible.
I think -- I just -- you know, DeSantis may prove himself and may do great, but I just think it's too early to be saying he's the anointed one.
And I think he has yet to prove himself on the field.
You know what I mean?
Can he handle himself in a debate?
Can he answer questions from the media that's not Fox?
You know, how does he do with meeting voters in New Hampshire and Iowa?
I think that time will tell.
We don't know the answer to that yet.
>> This week, DeSantis said protecting Ukraine is not a vital national interest.
>> I mean... >> I mean, there's a rising wing in the Republican Party that seems more neo-isolationist, non-interventionist.
What is your sense of what that hearkens for the party and its position on foreign policy moving forward?
>> Well, it's not good, and I don't agree with him.
It goes back to what you were just talking about, the basic tenets of Republican policy, and, you know, Reagan's "peace through strength," going back to where we used to stand up for our allies and stand up to our enemies.
And now we have people in the party that don't want to help, you know, defend the brave people of Ukraine who are standing up, fighting for their freedom, and they're sympathizing with Putin, who's, you know, an aggressor.
I don't understand it.
But it's not conservative Republican policy, I can tell you that.
Just like, you know, telling businesses that if they don't agree with you, "we're going to put you out of business."
I mean, that doesn't seem like small government -- >> You're referring to what he did with Disney.
A lot of the things that a lot of the candidates are talking about sound completely foreign to me.
It doesn't sound like the party that I've spent my life in.
>> When you think about an alternative to Donald Trump, is DeSantis the kind of candidate that you think the Republican Party needs in order to win?
>> I think the Republican Party would be successful if we can find a candidate with a kind of more positive, more hopeful vision for America and someone that can appeal to people outside the Republican base.
I think DeSantis is really well-positioned to capture the Trump base.
But I'm not yet convinced he's the best one for us to win.
We're not going to sweep the country with a 49-state majority like Ronald Reagan did in an overwhelming landslide popular vote unless we find a message that's a little different.
>> You are an honorary co-chair of No Labels, an organization that works to find bipartisan solutions for key public policy problems and political challenges in this country.
And No Labels has raised, at least according to what I've heard you say, $50 million so far in order to secure an independent candidate on the ballot in all 50 states for the 2024 presidential election, which has been called an insurance policy.
Tell me more about that insurance policy.
>> This plan is not something I'm really involved in, and I'm not sure, you know, all the details of it.
But the concept as I understand it is, there are about 65% to 70% of the people in America that do not want Joe Biden and Donald Trump to be president.
And they're not trying to start a third party.
Their theory is, in case of emergency, break glass, you know, insurance policy, that they're getting on the ballot in all 50 states, so they could have the potential of bringing somebody in to run.
>> I mean, do you think an independent third-party candidate, if it is Trump and Biden, would actually stand a chance?
>> I think it's really hard.
And of course history would say it doesn't happen.
>> It's never happened.
>> It's never happened.
However, I get the frustration that the exhausted majority goes, "You know, this is not what we want."
So I would just say you never say never.
I wouldn't -- I'm not promoting it.
I'm not counting on it.
But, I mean, I said the other day, you know, how would you rule it out?
>> You're not a career politician.
You are returning to the private sector after two terms as governor.
You have said that you plan on contributing to the Republican Party in whatever way you can in order to be helpful.
What's the best way, Governor, that you can be helpful to the Republican Party in this next stretch as it nominates its next candidate to be president?
>> I'm trying to figure that out.
So I'm out talking with folks.
I'm traveling around the country.
I'm gonna be in Iowa.
I'm still keeping the same schedule.
I'm still saying the same things I've been saying.
And I still want to be a voice of reason because I think the things that I care about are important to the party and the country.
I'd like to find a candidate who stands out that I can get behind and help win.
So I just know this -- I'm not -- I'm not ready to give up on the Republican Party or on America.
And so I'm going to stay just as active as ever.
It just may not be as a candidate.
I think you can contribute in other ways.
>> It may not be as a candidate, but you haven't ruled out being an independent candidate.
>> Well -- >> Depending on how things shake out.
>> I said I would never say never, but it's certainly not something I'm focused on.
>> Governor Hogan, for your leadership to this country and for your continued service to the Republican Party, thank you.
>> Thank you so much.
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