The following is a transcript of an interview with former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan that aired on Sunday, March 5, 2023 on Face the Nation.
ROBERT COSTA: Governor Hogan, thank you for speaking with us. For so many months you have been considering running for the Republican presidential nomination. Have you made your decision?
REG. HOGAN: I’ve got Bob, you know, I just want to thank people across the country who have encouraged me to consider running for President. I was flattered by that and I’ve seriously thought about it and I’ve spoken to people everywhere and I’ve spoken to my family. And it was a difficult decision. But I have decided that I will not be a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. The country and my party are very close to my heart. I think I’ve been a voice of reason to try to bring us back to a place where we have a more hopeful, positive vision for America. I think we made a difference and I have no intention of leaving. I will continue to be involved in this battle for the soul of the Republican Party, but I just won’t do it as a presidential candidate.
ROBERT COSTA: You think if you sit outside maybe the field is a little tighter.
REG. HOGAN: I hope so.
ROBERT COSTA: It’s a bit harder for Trump to get that nomination.
REG. HOGAN: I really hope so.
REG. HOGAN: I was fighting because my heart was telling me to run. My head was telling me no, that doesn’t make sense for a whole bunch of reasons. And my stomach jerked back and forth. So it really came down to it – if I wasn’t 100 percent convinced then I shouldn’t be.
ROBERT COSTA: You were torn.
REG. HOGAN: I was torn.
ROBERT COSTA: Most difficult decision of your political career?
REG. HOGAN: Absolutely. Hardest decision I’ve ever made.
ROBERT COSTA: Politically, by staying out of the running – it’s a smaller field, could it be harder for Trump to get the nomination?
REG. HOGAN: I didn’t want a bunch of people arguing. Right now you have Trump and DeSantis at the front of the pack, they’re sucking up all the oxygen and getting all the attention. And then a whole bunch of the rest of us in the single digits, and the more of them you have, the less chance there is of someone moving up.
ROBERT COSTA: You’re a traditional Republican. You have long defined yourself as a conservative Republican. Have you looked at this race and said, “Perhaps the road is too narrow for a Republican like me, like Larry Hogan”?
GOV HOGAN: Well, that wasn’t a question, it’s a challenge. There’s a big, big fight at what I would say is the heart and soul of the Republican Party, which I’ve been talking about for years. It still goes on. But we’re making progress. I mean, it went from about 90 percent of the main Republican base behind Trump to about 60 percent after January 6 to about 30 percent now. There’s about two-thirds of the people in the Republican Party, while they may have supported Trump and Trump’s policies, they’re really willing to consider going in a different direction.
ROBERT COSTA: But he still leads the polls.
REG. HOGAN: He’s leading the polls and there’s no question he’s a formidable challenge. But I think, you know, a year is an eternity in politics and the first primary is about a year away. So I think how it looks today could be very different than in a year.
ROBERT COSTA: You’re a two-term governor, just left office, you’ve long been associated with the legacy of Ronald Reagan, the politics of the conservative movement. Is your decision not to run in 2024 in any way an admission that this party, this version of the Republican Party, is fading or even gone?
REG. HOGAN: You know, I don’t feel like that at all. I think we certainly went in the wrong direction. And we’re not back on track. It will take a while. We’re not there yet. I would say the Reagan party is not dead and neither is the Trump party.
ROBERT COSTA: How serious is this moment for your party in terms of defeating former President Trump? If he wins the White House again, what would that mean for American democracy?
REG. HOGAN: Well I’m- I hope it won’t happen-
ROBERT COSTA: But what does it mean if it is?
REG. HOGAN: Then I think we need to do a soul search. We will dig for a long time. But look, we lost seven of the last eight popular votes in the presidential race. And we lost – we had three terrible election cycles where we should have – had a huge gain in the last election and we didn’t. Before that, we lost the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the White House. We have to start going back to a party that the people will vote for or we can’t govern.
ROBERT COSTA: If you look at your efforts to get the Republican Party to return to its conservative roots, you face many obstacles. There is a great battle over what the truth is. And the recent Dominion lawsuit against Fox News, Fox Corporation, is an example of how there is a real battle over whether or not voter fraud took place. All of these false accusations of cheating can be found in the political debate right now, especially on the right. What is your response to the Dominion lawsuit against Fox News? And what does it reveal about the Republican Party and maybe Fox News?
REG. HOGAN: Well, I don’t know all the details of the Dominion lawsuit, but I’m certainly following the controversy. And it’s not — it’s not a surprise, because for years we’ve had people who — you know, I’d hear from elected officials and party leaders and people in Congress or other governors, or people in conservative media who said something privately – I have always told the truth. And I was, you know, sometimes criticized for that. But I always stood up and said exactly what I thought. People said to me, “Oh, I agree with what you’re saying. But I can’t say it.” Or they would, you know, they would know the truth but say something different just to win votes. And I think that’s part of the problem. And I think we need to get back to the truth. And we need to stop the conspiracy theories. That’s why we lost all the elections in this last race. I mean, the people who spread election lies and said that nothing happened on January 6th or that the — the pandemic — was fake, the virus didn’t show up. They all lost, and the people who actually won were common sense, conservative Republicans like me, who were actually able to win alternate votes, and who talked about issues like economics like crime and education. They focused on things people cared about. We can look no further back and we can no longer deny facts.
ROBERT COSTA: Is Governor DeSantis someone you might see as a non-Trump candidate in your party?
REG. HOGAN: Look, the people of Florida overwhelmingly voted for Ron DeSantis. I’ve said before that I think governors are a good training ground for becoming president. We have many great governors to consider. I, you know, maybe Ron DeSantis and I have different styles. But, you know, he sure is- he has every right to go out there and make the case.
ROBERT COSTA: How do you feel about Governor DeSantis’ efforts to counter Disney and his Florida Self-Governing Zone?
REG. HOGAN: My controversy was about telling a company that if you don’t agree with me, I’ll put you out of business or take you over. And I’m a traditional breed of small government, a conservative Republican who doesn’t believe in hard-headed local governments telling businesses what to do. So we’re going to look at it from a different perspective. It’s not about the-the-the problems themselves, which they argued about, but how-how they are dealt with, I would disagree
ROBERT COSTA: He talks about his struggles with what he calls “awakened” culture. What is DeSantis’ approach – tell you about its politics?
REG. HOGAN: Well, I think he’s going right behind the Trump base, and he wants to be, I think, the younger version of Donald Trump, and you know, he’s trying to set the base on fire, which is fine. And winning a primary might be a good strategy, but my point was that you also need to focus on winning swing voters. Or we have Joe Biden as President and that’s not what we need.
ROBERT COSTA: How tough could it be, DeSantis vs. Trump?
REG. HOGAN: Might be rude. You know, time will tell. It’s going to be very interesting. Joe Biden is not the type who should be the next president. And I think most people would agree with that. But you can’t beat anyone with anyone. We have to find the best candidate.
ROBERT COSTA: You were friends with former Vice President Mike Pence – someone you could support?
REG. HOGAN: Absolutely. I have great respect for Mike Pence. And I thought he’s certainly the type of guy – he’s full of integrity and experience.
ROBERT COSTA: And if any other potential contender is listening to you today. What are you hoping for from this decision, from your move?
REG. HOGAN: I love competition and I hate coronations. My advice would be don’t run just because you want to get your name out there, or you want to be on television, or you want to write a book, or get a television contract, or because you want to be cabinet secretary. You should only run if you believe that you are capable, qualified, and that you have a real chance of becoming not just the candidate but the next President.