MANCHESTER, N.H. — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, sounding almost like a presidential candidate but not quite, pitched a vision of a less-partisan political landscape to a politically-connected crowd in New Hampshire Wednesday morning.

The Republican governor, who is eyeing a potential run for the White House in 2024, spoke at Politics & Eggs at Saint Anselm College, an event that’s practically de rigueur for anyone hoping to run for president thanks to New Hampshire’s traditional early position on the presidential primary calendar.

“Americans are not tired of freedom and democracy,” Hogan told several dozen business and political leaders as they sipped coffee and picked at their eggs. “They’re tired of failed leadership. And they’re fed up with politicians who put their own self interest before America.”

Hogan ran through his biographical arc, from his surprise gubernatorial win in 2014, to the unrest in Baltimore in 2015 following the death of Freddie Gray, to some of his accomplishments while dealing with a Democratic-led state legislature.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Much of Hogan’s 20-minute speech and 25 minutes of audience questions stayed with the theme he has been pushing as he travels to states across the country: That the nation’s political system is broken, with too many politicians catering to the extreme left or the extreme right — and neglecting the “exhausted majority” that hopes for a more middle-of-the-road approach.

“The majority of Americans today believe that our nation is way off track and heading in the wrong direction,” Hogan said. “Most Americans are thoroughly convinced that we are hopelessly divided, that our political system is fundamentally broken and that Washington is completely dysfunctional.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signs wooden eggs before speaking at Politics & Eggs, a political speakers series at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. He's seated next to James Brett, president and CEO of the New England Council, a co-sponsor of the event. Hogan, a Republican finishing his second term as governor, is weighing a run for president in 2024.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signs wooden eggs before speaking at Politics & Eggs, a political speakers series at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. He's seated next to James Brett, president and CEO of the New England Council, a co-sponsor of the event. Hogan, a Republican finishing his second term as governor, is weighing a run for president in 2024. (Pamela Wood)

Hogan added some new material to what has essentially become his stump speech, levying criticism at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and President Joe Biden — who are both in the mix for 2024.

Hogan blasted DeSantis for the “publicity stunt” of flying migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, saying that while it got attention, it did nothing to address the nation’s immigration problems.

“I think it was a terrible idea,” Hogan said. “Let’s just try to address the issue seriously and fix the problem, rather than trying to get on TV.”

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

DeSantis — who, like Hogan, is a Republican — routinely finishes near the top of polls ranking potential Republican presidential candidates.

As for Biden, Hogan said he’s not sure whether the Democratic president will run for reelection, but that did not spare the president from Hogan’s criticism.

Hogan blamed Biden for soaring inflation, an energy crisis, a poorly-conceived plan to forgive student loans, pushing Congress to pass “a reckless grab bag of progressive wish list items” and showing weakness to the nation’s enemies.

“Joe Biden said he would govern from the center, but instead he caters to the far left extremes of his party,” Biden said. “And he flounders from crisis the crisis, showing weakness to the world. Biden promised to work toward uniting the country, but instead he attacks millions of Americans who voted against them as a threat to democracy.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan speaks at Politics & Eggs, a political speakers series at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. Hogan, a Republican finishing his second term as governor, is weighing a run for president in 2024.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan speaks at Politics & Eggs, a political speakers series at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. Hogan, a Republican finishing his second term as governor, is weighing a run for president in 2024. (Pamela Wood)

As for Hogan’s own political plans, the governor — as usual — tiptoed around giving a direct answer about whether a 2024 presidential run is in his sights. James Brett, head of the New England Council, asked Hogan about what seems to be “a tentative approach” to a possible run and whether there’s a lane for him in a Republican Party that’s dominated by former President Donald. Trump.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“I have actually never said I was going to be a candidate for president. Obviously, I’m traveling around the country, to about 25 different states, and I’m listening to people and trying to get a feel,” Hogan said.

Hogan said there are plenty of Trump-aligned candidates who might run and suggested they could split the vote and leave an opening for a non-Trump candidate.

“There could be a bunch of people fishing in the same pond, dividing it up,” Hogan said. “And maybe there’s that same, 20 to 30 percent right now that want to go in a completely different direction. So we’ll see.”

Hogan is among the most popular governors in the country. A September survey from Goucher College Poll in partnership with The Baltimore Banner and WYPR found 62 percent of Marylanders polled approved of the job he was doing. But Hogan’s support was stronger among Democrats and independents than it was among Republicans. And Hogan’s hand-picked successor, former state labor and commerce secretary Kelly Schulz, lost the Republican primary to Trump-endorsed state Del. Dan Cox in July.

Hogan said he’ll watch the results of this fall’s midterm elections and convene a “leadership summit” in Annapolis in late November “to talk about the path forward.”

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

But the governor’s presence at Politics & Eggs indicate he may be seriously considering a run.

Politics & Eggs is held periodically at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, sponsored by the New England Council, a nonpartisan and nonprofit booster group for the region. Speakers at Politics & Eggs engage in a tradition of signing wooden eggs after they speak.

Presidential hopefuls routinely traipse through the Granite State, making campaign stops and speaking at events with political insiders, such as Politics & Eggs.

The meeting room where Politics & Eggs is held is decorated with oversized photos of politicians on the trail in New Hampshire, many of them at Politics & Eggs, including Trump and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The speakers so far in 2022 have included Mike Pompeo, the former secretary of state; former Vice President Mike Pence; Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson; and Chris Christie, former governor of New Jersey and ally of Hogan.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Though a small state, New Hampshire has an outsized role in national politics. It’s currently second on the calendar in the presidential primary season every four years, holding primary elections after the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses. (Democrats, however, are considering switching up the calendar, and Maryland has applied to be an early-primary state.)

Hogan said New Hampshire voters are a discerning group and he believes they should remain early in the presidential nominating system.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's autograph adorns wooden eggs, which are a signature tradition at Politics & Eggs, a political speakers series at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. Hogan, who is weighing a run for president in 2024, spoke at Politics & Eggs on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's autograph adorns wooden eggs, which are a signature tradition at Politics & Eggs, a political speakers series at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. Hogan, who is weighing a run for president in 2024, spoke at Politics & Eggs on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. (Pamela Wood)

Hogan last spoke at Politics & Eggs in 2019, when he briefly weighed a 2020 challenge to Trump.

The speech was part of a multiday trip to New England. On Wednesday, Hogan met with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a fellow Republican governor in a Democrat-dominated state, and spoke at Harvard University.

After the Politics & Eggs speech, Hogan planned to meet with local government officials, tour a police athletic league facility and talk with home builders. He had two political fundraisers planned on Thursday and Friday.

Hogan has been to New Hampshire three times this year, and he also visited the Iowa State Fair and met with local officials there this summer.

The Republican governor ends his second term in January and is barred from running for another term due to term limits. He hasn’t officially said “yes” to running for president in 2024, but he hasn’t said “no,” either.

When asked about his future political ambitions, Hogan frequently says he’s focused on “running through the tape” and finishing his tenure as Maryland governor. The website Maryland Matters reported that Hogan and about 50 supporters and advisers recently met at an Annapolis hotel to discuss his future.

In recent months, Hogan has been deliberately spreading a message in media interviews, guest op-eds and public appearances of bipartisanship and needing to blunt the extremes of both the Democratic and Republican parties.

Although national and out-of-state media and politicians often credit Hogan with bipartisan legislative successes, the governor acknowledged to the Harvard audience that he has had only limited victories facing a Democratic-dominated legislature in Maryland.

He noted that Democrats did override a lot of his vetoes of legislation he disliked, just not all of his vetoes. “It wasn’t all roses — we didn’t agree on everything,” Hogan said.

pamela.wood@thebaltimorebanner.com