New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu delivered what may be the most damning review of former President Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign launch.
“You have a former president who announces he’s going to run again, and it’s the third story in the news,” Sununu told Drew Cline on WFEA radio Thursday morning. “It was a very mundane announcement, made clearly for his own self-driven purposes, and he made it at his politically weakest point. It’s an odd time to announce you’re running for president.
“No one is really caring,” Sununu said.
Sununu, who has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate, was asked if he agreed with former Vice President Mike Pence that Republicans would have better candidates than Trump to choose from in 2024.
“Of course, we’ll have a lot better candidates in 2024. That doesn’t mean he can’t win the nomination — he could,” Sununu said. But he added that “the American spirit” is to move forward, not linger on the past, a clear reference to Trump’s obsession with the unfounded conspiracy theory that he actually won the 2020 presidential election.
“There’s always a bench, someone with new ideas,” Sununu said. “We’re always trying to bring something new.”
As for Trump, Sununu said the GOP approach should be, ‘Thank you for your service.’
“He passed some good laws and had some good policies, he did that for four years. Now we’re moving on — it’s that simple.”
An hour or so later, Trump loyalist Corey Lewandowski was on the Pulse of New Hampshire radio show with a similar message: Trump’s obsession with 2020 is harming his chances at victory in 2024.
“I’m a huge Donald Trump supporter. He is the leader of our party, if he stays on this path, he’s likely to be our nominee. But we have to move past the 2020 election,” Lewandowski said.
At the same time, Lewandowski rose to Trump’s defense, pushing back on attempts to blame the former president for the GOP’s underwhelming performance in this year’s midterm elections. Lewandowski said it was more about embracing the status quo than rejecting Trump’s candidates.
“It’s the first time since 1904 that every incumbent U.S. senator and governor who ran was reelected,” Lewandowski said. “Voters just wanted to stay with people they knew.”
And he reminded the naysayers who declared Trump’s 2024 campaign dead on arrival that Republicans have seen this show before.
“You are always going to have people who don’t like Donald Trump’s style of politics, people who tell us we have to nominate someone like Mitt Romney,” Lewandowski said. “We see how that worked out.”
Lewandowski was also in Thursday’s New York Times in a story headlined “Key Allies Inching Away From Trump.”
“Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, a Republican often mentioned as a potential 2024 candidate, said she did not believe Mr. Trump offered “the best chance” for the party in 2024.
“If we narrow our focus there, then we’re not talking to every single American,” Ms. Noem said in an interview as she sat across a mahogany table from her political adviser, Corey Lewandowski, who served as campaign manager for an early portion of Mr. Trump’s 2016 bid. “Our job is not just to talk to people who love Trump or hate Trump. Our job is to talk to every single American.”
According to published reports, Trump and his team are unhappy with the response to his announcement. His communications team sent out a series of press releases Thursday announcing endorsements he has received. But they came from less-than-impressive sources like failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and the New York City Young Republican Club.
It doesn’t matter, say Trump supporters. His fans are sticking with him.
“He’s still got his base,” says Seth Weathers, a former political strategist and early Trump backer based in Georgia. “The Republicans grumbling about him running are the same exact people who hated him up until he became the GOP nominee in 2016.”
“The Republican talking heads who are showing concern at his candidacy are the same people who hated him in 2015 and then pretended to support him when it became profitable to do so.”
“Nothing changes,” Weathers added.