Appearing with Nikki Haley at the site of the New Balance facility that just broke ground in Londonderry on Monday, Gov. Chris Sununu said he was ready to announce his pick … for his favorite sneaker.
Sununu was talking up the Granite State’s key role in picking the next commander-in-chief when an audience member called out, “Endorsement!”
“I endorse New Balance wholeheartedly and completely,” Sununu said.
Sununu, who has been campaigning with GOP presidential candidates for weeks — including a scheduled appearance with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) on Tuesday — then headed off to Oscar Barn in Hooksett for a Haley town hall. The popular wedding venue with views of the Merrimack River and tree-lined fields would have been the perfect place for Sununu to announce his endorsement, but it’s clear he still has commitment issues.
Haley has been making headlines as she rises in the polls, and interviews with attendees found many undecided voters coming to get a first — or, in some cases, second — look at the former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador.
Haley hit her marks with her message of speaking “hard truths” about the problems the country faces, from the porous southern border to a struggling economy made worse by feckless Republicans in Congress. She called out President Joe Biden’s weak foreign policy that she says has invited aggression from Russia’s Vladimir Putin against Ukraine and Hamas terrorists in Israel.
But the hot topic at any Republican gathering is Donald Trump, and Haley didn’t avoid the former president with the 30-point lead in the primary.
Haley’s message: She supported Trump in the past, but it is time for a new generation of leadership. Republicans have lost the popular vote in seven out of the eight past presidential elections, she reminded them, and the risk of another loss is too high.
“We have a country to save,” she said.
Chaos follows Trump wherever he goes, she told the crowd and the stakes are too great for more of the Trump Show, even if voters like what he did during his first term.
“With an economy out of control and wars around the world, we can’t afford any more chaos,” Haley said.
Turning the page on the Trump era is a message Sununu has been pushing for months. On Monday, Sununu said Trump tapped into the real frustrations and concerns Americans are experiencing but couldn’t accomplish what needed to be done to solve enough problems to make a lasting difference.
“He had some good policies, but he didn’t really get enough done for a lot of folks’ liking,” Sununu said. “There’s an opportunity to bring a conservative into the White House, connect with individuals, appreciate their frustration, and actually accomplish a lot of these policy objectives, and do it without the chaos.”
There are nine weeks to go before the primary, and this is the time voters start to pay attention, learn about the candidate, and make their decisions, Sununu said. Now is the time the candidates can really build momentum.
That is what Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are all hoping for in the final months of the New Hampshire campaign. And, political observers say, Sununu’s endorsement could be the push they need to start that “Big Mo.”
A day earlier, Trump picked up the endorsement of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, representing the largest Republican state with the most convention delegates in the country.
“We need a president who’s going to secure the border,” Abbott said. “We need Donald J. Trump back as our president of the United States of America.”
Sununu is spending plenty of time with the candidates, but he seems more interested in getting them to buy into the 603 agenda. Government shouldn’t tell people how to live or dictate to businesses how they should operate, Sununu said. It’s about providing opportunities for people to make their own decisions in their lives.
“(New Hampshire wants) a president that understands the individual comes first, the business comes first, the parent comes first,” Sununu said. “That’s really what Live Free or Die means.”
When he does make an endorsement decision in the coming week, Sununu said he will go all out for the candidate he backs.
“I tend to not leave anything on the table,” Sununu said.
Sununu played coy when meeting with national media after Haley’s stump speech. Asked when he would make his endorsement, he replied, “Sometime after today.”