The failure of the Republican-backed parents’ rights legislation in the New Hampshire House Wednesday sparked an angry reaction from a 2024 GOP presidential candidate — but not the one you might think.
While potential candidate Gov. Chris Sununu has been silent on the legislation, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy released a video to NHJournal announcing his support for parental rights and calling out Sununu for his silence.
“Gov. Sununu’s silence on this issue is disappointing but speaks volumes. The government shouldn’t control your children,” Ramaswamy told NHJournal in a written statement. “If Sununu is against the Parental Bill of Rights, he should explain why. As U.S. president, I’ll do my part to empower parents by shutting down the U.S. Department of Education – one of the invisible forces responsible for the rise of wokeism in schools across the country, including in New Hampshire.”
Ramaswamy then sent NHJournal a video statement regarding the legislation and Sununu’s leadership.
Calling leadership on this issue “table stakes for anyone who wants to lead a state, much less this country,” Ramaswamy says parents have a right to know about their children’s behavior at school.
“If a kid, especially at the behest of teachers in their schools, is changing their gender identity or identifying differently, you as a parent at least have the right to know that,” Ramaswamy says. “That’s not objectionable to me.”
Fighting back against “certain elements of the political fringe, particularly on the left,” is going to take “leaders with convention, leaders with spine,” Ramaswamy adds. And he suggests Sununu isn’t one of them.
“If Chris Sununu isn’t in favor of this for some reason, he ought to be transparent about why. I don’t think staying silent about it and hoping this issue blows over is actually a viable strategy, either politically or, more importantly, as somebody who is asking people to be their leader,” Ramaswamy says.
“So, Gov. Sununu, I hope you at least give people an answer for where you come down on this and give them an explanation for why you’ve been silent.”
Sununu has declined requests for comment on Wednesday’s vote, and he has largely been silent on the parents’ rights issue. Sununu also declined to comment on Ramaswamy’s statement.
In the last legislative session, Sununu used his veto threat to kill a parents’ rights bill, though it had key differences from this year’s legislation. Rep. Joe Sweeney posted on Twitter that Sununu supports the parents’ rights bill, but he was unable to offer specific examples of public statements from the governor.
GOP insiders tell NHJournal Sununu isn’t willing to jump on a train that may not leave the station, but if it starts making progress, he’ll be on board.
For the moment, however, Sununu continues to avoid cultural issues, focusing on economic stories like New Hampshire recently being named the state with the best “return on investment” for taxpayers.
Ramaswamy is running on his success in business, but he’s also put a major focus on cultural issues he addressed in his book “Woke, Inc.” A Time magazine article Wednesday said the 37-year-old entrepreneur, author, and activist, may be handling Trump’s potential arrest better than anyone else in the field. He’s not only adamantly attacking the Manhattan district attorney, but he is loudly calling on the rest of the field — including Sununu — to do the same.
“Just as a smart NASCAR driver does, Ramaswamy is tucking into the draft of the frontrunner, cutting down on headwind and lowering air pressure to ease his own path. Put another way: You can’t stop the wave, but you can ride it,” Time magazine wrote.
Meanwhile, Granite State Republicans see the parents’ rights issue as the latest example of the kind of Republican Sununu has never been, and isn’t likely to become on the campaign trail.
“Sununu just doesn’t like culture wars stuff, and he never will. But if he wants to be a serious candidate for president, he’s going to have to find a way to talk about them,” a GOP strategist with ties to New Hampshire said after seeing the video.
“You think Ron DeSantis would be sitting this out in Florida? He would have had a state house rally in Tallahassee for this bill. Hell, I’m almost surprised he didn’t have one in Concord today.”