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  • Writer's pictureMattie Mills

Asa Hutchinson Masters the Q&A

As a student at Drake University, I recently had the unique opportunity to attend a speech by Asa Hutchinson, former Arkansas Governor and current presidential candidate. On December 7th, Asa held a town hall forum on the Pomerantz Stage at my university. 

I ran into the forum and was surprised to see Asa wandering around, meeting and having personal conversations with all the students there. I, tired from writing final essays, was greeted with a smile by the former Governor. We chatted about his work in Arkansas and how his work for the rural people there could translate to Iowa. He also wished me a Merry Christmas after seeing my vintage 80s snowman sweatshirt. 

However, his compliment on my sweatshirt was not my main takeaway from this event. The main thing that stuck out to me about Asa’s time at Drake was not his speech either, even though it was interesting to hear his personal story. The main takeaway I had from this event was his success in the Q&A session that occurred after his speech. I have never seen a presidential candidate accept or answer (especially answer well) as many questions as Asa did at Drake. 

The atmosphere in the room was initially filled with a sense of hesitation, and questions were initially slow to come. Even college students can be pretty shy, especially when sitting ten feet away from a former Governor and current presidential candidate (and right next to their peers). However, as time progressed, more and more hands shot up in an eagerness to ask the Governor a question. 

What struck me the most was the diversity of the questions asked. Questions ranged from more common ones that I have heard at most events, touching on topics like abortion or immigration, but others delved into more niche and unique subjects. One of my classmates, a computer science major, asked about teaching cybersecurity in school and loved Asa’s answer that it was increasingly important. Another of my classmates, currently in a class on the history of Russia, asked about the BRICS agreement and the Governor’s thoughts. 

The majority of questions asked of the former Governor were particular and very niche. Because of this, I was shocked when Asa answered them with poise, knowledge, and genuine interest. What made his Q&A session more exceptional than some of the other ones I’ve seen was not just the range of questions but the depth and specificity of the answers he provided. As someone who had a class afterward, I hoped the Q&A session would be short. However, unlike me, Asa’s responses made it clear he valued the questions asked and the students asking them. He made it feel important and made students feel like he had nowhere else to be more critical. 

Often, presidential candidates come off feeling rushed or in a hurry, which can make the audience feel unimportant or even like they don’t matter. Asa, however, defied this common stereotype. The unique thing about Asa is that instead, he took his time and made students at Drake, at the very least, feel like they were being listened to and genuinely heard. It was evident in those moments when he considered questions and concerns that fostering a relationship between him and the audience was of the utmost importance. 

In a world where political figures increasingly come off as distant or detached, his approach to the Q&A session was a refreshing departure from the norm. His commitment to fostering genuine connections left a lasting impression on those students who were there. 

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