ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is urging Republican voters to “stand against the extremes,” saying the GOP is "desperately in need of a course correction,” as the term-limited governor weighs a presidential run.
In prepared remarks for a speech Tuesday evening at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute, Hogan cast himself as a politician with broad appeal like his political hero, Reagan.
The Republican criticized last year's rioting at the U.S. Capitol as “an outrageous attack on our Democracy, incited by the losing candidate’s inflammatory false rhetoric.”
“We need to stand against the extremes and for the majority of Americans,” Hogan says in the speech. “We need a hopeful positive vision for America, and a message that appeals to a broader group of voters.”
Hogan said the last four years were the worst for the GOP since the 1930s — "even worse than after Watergate when Ronald Reagan had to rebuild the party from the ashes.”
The governor also criticized former President Donald Trump's denial of his loss in the 2020 campaign, saying the divide in the Republican Party is "more of a difference between those who know how to win, and those who only pretend that they won.”
“A party that lost the popular vote in seven out of the last eight presidential elections, and that couldn’t even beat Joe Biden, is desperately in need of a course correction,” Hogan said. “The truth is the last election was not rigged and it wasn’t stolen. We simply didn’t offer the majority of voters what they were looking for.”
The governor said the Democratic Party “is dragging us in a far-left direction that America does not want and can not afford.”
“Joe Biden said he would govern from the center and unite the country, but instead he caters to the far-left extremes of his party and flails from crisis to crisis, showing weakness to the world,” Hogan said.
The popular governor also highlighted his own political resume as one that appeals to Democrats as well as Republicans in a blue state, where he became only the second Republican governor ever reelected in Maryland's history. Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1 in the state.
In February, Hogan announced he would not run for the U.S. Senate, despite an aggressive recruitment push from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans. Hogan has positioned himself to run as a legitimate alternative to Trump.
“We won’t win back the White House by nominating Donald Trump or a cheap impersonation of him,” Hogan said.
Still, Hogan would be an overwhelming underdog given Trump’s dominant standing in the GOP.