BELLEVUE, Wash — Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has been called a 'unicorn' among Republican governors, unafraid to call out former President Donald Trump.
In fact, he flirted with running against the then-president, as the moderate GOP leader who has governed a deep blue state. He may be flirting with it again, based on a barnstorming tour of suburban western Washington cities that included a stop in Bellevue on Friday.
Officially, he was talking to people about his organization 'An America United' — which seeks to find the middle ground on a national scale, and get away from so-called identity politics, and "trying to bring the Republican party back to where we can win elections again."
But the two-term governor did nothing to dispute the idea, first floated by Politico, that his organization is about building a national apparatus for a 2024 presidential campaign.
"Right now, I'm the governor until January of 2023 in my state, and that's what I'm focused on," he told KING 5. "Then, we'll see what happens after that. I haven't ruled it out."
Hogan made headlines earlier in the year when he said Marylanders should just "get the damn vaccine."
"(I) probably shouldn't have used that language on television," he laughed. "But we don't have a mandate. We're one of the most vaccinated states. 99.9% of our seniors, and 88.9% of adults 18 and over, without a mandate, just by clearly telling people the importance of it."
"I just try to stay focused on the science, and listen to the smartest people in the room."
He said Republicans need to realize that the Jan. 6th attack on the Capitol "was an attack on our seat of democracy, and people who don't believe that need to check their facts." He stresses that the election was legitimate.
"It's because of flat-out lies and disinformation spread since the election. We've got to return to some sanity and start talking about facts again," Hogan said.
He talked at length about public policy, and what he sees as differences between Republicans and Democrats. For instance, he supported the infrastructure bill but calls the Build Back Better package a waste.
"With inflation out of control, all that additional spending is not something that's good for the country."
He also says, as far as the Supreme Court deliberations on the Mississippi challenge of Roe v. Wade, "Look, I am personally opposed to abortion, but have not taken any steps in my seven years as governor to restrict access to abortion."
Hogan said he wants to be a 'big-tent' Republican, but acknowledges that the extremes continue to threaten the party. When asked specifically about whether there was room for Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Green, or even one time Washington gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp, he replied, "Well, I'm not sure we should bring some of those folks under the tent, or at all, because some of them are completely crazy."
His trip to the state is highlighted by an appearance to support Washington Congresswoman Jamie Herrera Beutler, who voted to impeach President Trump for the events of Jan. 6, and is now facing a challenge from a Trump-backed candidate.
"The angriest, loudest voices are on the far left and far right, but the overwhelming majority of America is somewhere in the middle," he said.