(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden’s top adviser apologized to Asa Hutchinson for a Democratic National Committee statement that denigrated his failed run for the Republican presidential nomination.
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Chief of staff Jeff Zients told Hutchinson, who suspended his campaign after Monday’s Iowa caucuses, in a phone call that the statement “did not represent the president’s views,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday. A DNC spokesperson had said Tuesday the news of Hutchinson’s exit “comes as a shock to those of us who could’ve sworn he had already dropped out.”
Hutchinson, the former governor of Arkansas, finished in a very distant sixth place in Iowa, garnering only 191 votes out of more than 110,000 cast. The old-guard Republican’s departure robbed the GOP primary field of the last remaining candidate willing to unequivocally criticize frontrunner Donald Trump.
Biden “has deep respect” for Hutchinson and “admires the race that he ran,” Jean-Pierre said, adding the president views him as a “a man of principle who cares about our country and has a strong record of public service.”
Read More: Hutchinson Exits, Taking ‘Never Trump’ Republicans Out of Race
Zients’ call marked a rare moment of bipartisan outreach during an election year that has been characterized by polarized political combat.
Trump, who faces four criminal indictments, has used authoritarian rhetoric to boost his campaign. He’s vowed to exact vengeance on his political opponents if he wins a second term in the White House and said he could act as a “dictator” on his first day in office.
--With assistance from Josh Wingrove.
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