New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has long been an outspoken critic of former President Donald Trump’s bid to become the GOP’s 2024 POTUS nominee. But on Thursday, he invoked one of the most brutal insults in Republican politics:
Comparing him to Joe Biden.
Sununu’s argued that love Trump or hate him, the former president can’t win a general election. And closer to home, having Trump and Trump-friendly candidates will hurt the GOP in states like New Hampshire, as it did in 2022.
“He didn’t just cost us the presidency in 2020, but he cost us again in 2022,” Sununu said.
But Sununu’s pundit-style critiques of Trump are sounding more personal as the First in the Nation primary day (most likely January 23) approaches.
“Trump never talks about policy anymore, have you noticed,” Sununu asked reporters during a press gaggle.
“Did you see [Trump’s] last visit to New Hampshire? He was comparing himself to Nelson Mandela and talking about Jesus Christ being speaker of the House — it was kooky talk. Trump’s gotten to the place where, if he’s not on the teleprompter, he’s all over the place. He sounds almost as bad as Joe Biden. It’s really that discombobulated of a speech,” Sununu said.
It was a critique Sununu has begun to offer more often, though he raised these concerns before.
“This is not the Donald Trump of 2016; don’t fool yourself,” Sununu told ABC News in July. “He doesn’t have the energy, he doesn’t have the fastball, he basically is droning on for 90 minutes in his long-form speeches about his legal battles, as opposed to talking about the future of this country.”
Sununu’s take on Trump may sound like whistling past the graveyard, given the latest poll numbers showing him with a 30-point lead in the Granite State — and growing. The same is true in the other early-voting states like Iowa and South Carolina. The latter is the home state of both former Gov. Nikki Haley and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, both GOP presidential hopefuls.
In a new CNN poll, “53 percent of likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina call Trump their first choice for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, with 22 percent picking Haley and 11 percent backing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis,” it reported. “South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, whose campaign is currently focused on Iowa more than his home state, follows at six percent. No other candidate saw more than two percent support.”
Political conversations are full of talk about candidates like Scott and DeSantis “going all in” on Iowa. But The Washington Post reported Trump’s team is confident, and Trump’s opponents say that without consolidation of the GOP field, he is all but a lock.
“The former president is going to run away with this if there is not consolidation amongst the rest of the field,” Iowa-based GOP strategist Jimmy Centers told the Post. “If Iowa is the hill to die on, I hope you have a lot of provisions. Because as the field currently stands, there is no path to beating former president Trump.”
Sununu insists Trump is weaker than he looks.
“For a former president, as the head of the party, not to garner 50 percent — that’s a terrible number,” Sununu said. “Most former presidents would garner 80 percent support. It would be lights out; it wouldn’t be a contest.”
But not with Trump, who Sununu said has 30 percent of the GOP primary vote “locked down,” while the rest of his support is previous Trump voters who haven’t yet tuned in. Those voters, he said, are “up for grabs.”
As a result, between 50 to 70 percent of the GOP primary vote is in play, Sununu said. “Well over 50 to 60 percent of the voters [in New Hampshire] aren’t going to vote for Trump.
“Now you have the field narrowing down to two or three candidates, and when it does, then you’ll have a real race.”