Gov. Chris Sununu was back on national TV Sunday, touting “this awesome model of Live Free or Die” and taking more shots at the “big government authoritarianism” of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The popular four-term Republican is considering a White House run and has been ubiquitous on national TV news programming. Last Sunday he was on ABC News This Week, and he has made multiple appearances on CNN and Fox News. In his appearance on Face the Nation, he repeated many of the themes he has been talking up for weeks: Small-government conservatism, local control, and the need for the GOP to nominate candidates who can win general elections.
Sununu, who is known for his optimistic demeanor, decried the tendency of many in his party to simply criticize President Joe Biden without offering their own positive vision.
“It drives me crazy when Republicans talk in an echo chamber about how bad the president is,” Sununu told host Margaret Brennan. “We got the memo as Republicans. You’ve got to be for something. I’m trying to show that New Hampshire model, show the opportunity to get stuff done. I’ve had Republicans in my legislature, I have Democrats in my legislature, and I always get my conservative agendas done. We always cut taxes, we always balance a budget.”
“I think America is looking for results,” Sununu added.
Sununu also repeated his prediction that Biden would regret his decision to attempt to strip New Hampshire Democrats of their First In The Nation primary status, and his refusal to participate in the contest.
“I know other people will definitely run, they’re going to get in the race,” Sununu said of the Democratic primary. “There’s going to be a huge opportunity for anybody who wants to step up and challenge [Biden]. And if you look at the polls across the country, the average Democrat says, ‘Yeah, thanks for your service on one term, but let’s keep it to one term, President Biden.’
“And I just don’t believe that Democrat, left-wing elite is going to sit on the sidelines, knowing you could come to New Hampshire, get all the earned media, all the attention, without a whole lot of money, all that political momentum. He’s opened up his political flank, so to say, to give someone else a huge opportunity to charge right through and take that nomination from him,” Sununu said.
Sununu’s prediction echoes statements made by state Sen. Donna Soucy (D-Manchester) and Neil Levesque of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, whose organization is hosting Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. next month. Levesque said to expect more well-known Democrats to make appearances in the Granite State shortly.
But it was Sununu’s take on DeSantis that generated the most attention.
Brennan asked Sununu about his recent comment that ‘Republicans are almost trying to outdo Democrats at their own game of being big government and having a solution and a say on everything.’ Who did he have in mind, she asked.
At first, Sununu demurred, saying, “There’s no individual per se, but there’s a lot of leadership that says, ‘You know what, when we’re not getting that result out of a private business or locality, we’ll just impose from the top-down our conservative will.’”
But pressed by Brennan, he acknowledged he was including DeSantis in his criticism.
“Look, Ron’s a very good governor. But I’m just trying to remind folks what we are at our core. And if we’re trying to beat the Democrats at being big government authoritarians, remember what’s going to happen. Eventually, they’ll have power…and then they’ll start penalizing conservative businesses and conservative nonprofits, and conservative ideas.
“That is the worst precedent in the world. That’s exactly what the Founding Fathers tried to avoid. And so I’m trying to remind my conservative friends about federalism, free markets, and being for the voter first,” Sununu said.
Sununu hasn’t avoided throwing political elbows at DeSantis, who many polls show is leading former President Donald Trump in the GOP presidential primary race. It is a race DeSantis has yet to enter, and he has shrugged off all incoming criticism from potential 2024 rivals thus far.
On Thursday during an interview with Politico, Sununu noted New Hampshire leads Florida in ranking for personal freedom.
“I’m ranked the most fiscally conservative governor in the country,” Sununu told Politico’s Lisa Kashinsky. “I’m No. 1 in personal freedoms. Sorry, Ron, you’re number two. Sorry, Florida,” Sununu said.
An NHJournal/coefficient poll taken last month found Trump with 37 percent support from likely GOP primary voters. DeSantis was at 26 percent and Sununu at 13 percent. No other candidates reached five percent.