Addressing the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Indianapolis Friday, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu kept his remarks short and sweet: There is no substitute for winning.
“We can yell and scream all we want, but we want winners for tomorrow,” Sununu told the crowd.
“At the end of the day, we have to ask if we are going to sit back and whine. Or are we going to get it done. Let’s get it done,” Sununu added.
Sununu was part of a cattle call of announced and potential 2024 Republican candidates, including former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence, making their pitch to the pro-Second-Amendment organization. He used the opportunity to highlight his actions as governor on gun rights and call out “other Republicans that I respect very much, but they cave under pressure when it comes to the Second Amendment.”
“What is that about?” Sununu asked.
While the New Hampshire governor is often described as a moderate Republican from a purple state, he has a reputation even among far-Right critics as a strong defender of gun rights.
Kimberly Morin, who heads the Women’s Defense League of New Hampshire, is a conservative activist who isn’t hesitant to criticize Sununu from the right. But she admits, “Sununu has been very good on the Second Amendment.”
Sununu, known for off-the-cuff comments and speaking Friday without notes, mocked the presence of teleprompters at the lectern. “Are these teleprompters, who uses teleprompters? I mean, really,” Sununu quipped.
Sununu got a warm response from the NRA crowd when he recounted his decision to back a law last year barring state and local law enforcement from enforcing federal firearms statutes.
“We saw [what Biden was doing]. He may not remember it, but we do. He starts threatening executive orders. He’s just going to do executive orders to complicate firearms [rights] and limit them in all sorts of ways. We passed a law in New Hampshire that says if you are the federal government, we are the states. ‘Shove it. We are not doing it. We are not doing it.’”
Like some of his fellow speakers, like South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Sununu has been cagey about his 2024 plans. He’s openly discussed entering the race but hasn’t committed.
Sununu also took a swipe at Trump without naming him, referencing a comment the then-president made in the wake of the mass shooting in Parkland, Fla.
“I remember a prominent Republican a couple years ago, and I think he said, ‘We need to take the guns away first. Take them away early,’ he said. What is that about?”
“Or, Mike, take the firearms first and then go to court because that’s another system. Because a lot of times, by the time you go to court, it takes so long to go to court, to get the due process procedures. I like taking the guns early. Like in this crazy man’s case that just took place in Florida, he had a lot of firearms – they saw everything – to go to court would have taken a long time, so you could do exactly what you’re saying, but take the guns first, go through due process second.”
Sununu’s trademark energy and optimism were displayed throughout the speech, along with his repeated evocations of New Hampshire’s state motto.
“My message? Think big. Think positive,” Sununu said. “How do you grow or inspire? How do we get excited about the opportunity to create for tomorrow? Not the law, not the imposing regulation, not [penalizing] businesses. How do we get excited about opportunities?”
“What is at the heart of all that?” Sununu added. “A little bit of live free or die. That is what it is.”