WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House on Wednesday apologized to former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson for a Democratic National Committee statement a day earlier that mocked the end of his long-shot 2024 bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

White House chief of staff Jeff Zients called Hutchinson on Wednesday morning “to apologize on behalf of the president,” said press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “President Biden has deep respect for Gov. Hutchinson and admires the race that he ran,” she added.

Hutchinson posted on the social media site X: “The call from the White House was not necessary but still appreciated. We can disagree without demonizing.”

=DNC press secretary Sarafina Chitika on Tuesday responded to Hutchinson’s decision to end his campaign with a statement saying: “This news comes as a shock to those of us who could’ve sworn he had already dropped out.”

While a candidate, Hutchinson was critical of former President Donald Trump and — unlike the remaining GOP candidates — refused to commit to supporting him if he won the nomination. Biden has aimed to court anti-Trump Republicans to support his candidacy in 2024.

While he was governor, Hutchinson worked closely with Zients and the White House during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic after Biden took office in 2021