Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a seasoned politician who has served in Congress, as U.S. attorney and as a cabinet official in two Republican administrations, is running for president, and he is struggling.

A social conservative, Hutchinson has been campaigning heavily in Iowa for the past few months, where turnout at his campaign events has been noticeably sparse. Sometimes half a dozen Republican voters show up — as the New York Times has reported — and as is readily apparent in photos of the events.

“Even if you find six people there, I enjoy it, because you have a question and answer, you get to know them,” he said Monday at a news conference in Washington, D.C.

File: Asa Hutchinson, governor of Arkansas, left, meets a Desert Storm veteran during a campaign event at the Quad City Veterans Outreach Center in Davenport, Iowa, US, on Thursday, May 18, 2023. 

Rachel Mummey/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The former governor said not to minimize the importance smaller venues, although he was quick to mention he’s addressed larger crowds, as well, and pointed to a trip to Ohio last week with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.

“You got to put the time and perspective — we’re still…early, but we’ve got time time to work with, and we expect to get there,” Hutchinson said.

In the crowded field of 12 candidates, fundraising is also proving to be challenging. And his standing in the polls likely isn’t helping. According to CBS News polling from June 7, among likely GOP voters, if their state’s primary or caucus were held that day, 1% said they’d vote for Hutchinson, although 6% said they would consider voting for him. Hutchinson has raised $743,000 since April, and his campaign currently has about $503,000 on hand. Between April and mid-July, Hutchinson has collected donations from about 6,444 people, which also creates some pressure as he tries to meet the 40,000 unique-donor threshold to make the GOP presidential stage for the first primary debate on Aug. 23. 

FILE: Asa Hutchinson, governor of Arkansas, speaks during a campaign event at the Muscatine County GOP headquarters in Muscatine, Iowa, US, on Thursday, May 18, 2023. 

Photographer: Rachel Mummey/Bloomberg via Getty Images

“We’re going to make that goal and we have a plan to get there,” he told reporters Monday.

Other candidates who are not as well known as the frontrunners in the primaries have come up with some innovative ways of trying to meet the unique donor benchmark. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum’s campaign is giving $20 gift cards to $1 donors. And entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy has a plan to give bundlers a 10% commission on the money they raise for his campaign. Hutchinson said Burgum’s approach is a “great idea,” but said it illustrates the “ridiculousness” of the requirement to attract a certain number of donors. 

“I don’t think that’s what campaigns for president should be about,” Hutchinson said. “But that’s where we are.” 

Even if Hutchinson wanted to adopt Burgum’s strategy, he only has enough for about 8,000-9,000 donors – still far short of 40,000. 

In addition to Iowa, Hutchinson plans to focus on Kentucky and South Carolina, too, despite the fact that two of the candidates, Sen. Tim Scott and former Gov. Nikki Haley are from the state. But he has reasons to hope he can make inroads there, too.

“You got two other candidates from that state that’s there, and they’re favorite sons and daughters … but I also have connections there, and so it’s a Southern state. And so, I don’t want to just say we can’t compete there, because I think we can compete there, and you don’t know what’s going to happen down the road.”