New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has officially moved from the “people are talking to me about it” phase of a potential presidential bid and on to the “I’m thinking about getting in” point of the 2024 GOP primary process.
“So you’re considering it,” CNN’s Dana Bash asked the popular, four-term Republican on “State of the Union” Sunday.
“Yes,” Sununu replied.
For weeks, Sununu has been dancing around the question, generally avoiding a direct declaration. Earlier this month, for example, he told Fox News the POTUS 2024 speculation was “incredibly flattering.”
“A lot of folks are coming to me, a lot of folks want me to run. It’s definitely conversations that we’re having, of course,” Sununu said. However, he added, “my first priority is New Hampshire. It really is.”
Questions about Sununu’s likely next move — a POTUS run, the private sector, or seeking a record fifth term as governor — are rampant in Granite State GOP circles. Several pros pointed to the pro-Sununu Facebook ads paid for by the “Live Free or Die Committee,” which is set up to comply with federal law. That’s not a requirement for a gubernatorial campaign.
And it’s hard to miss his steady stream of national media appearances, which indicate an interest in raising his profile.
Other Republican insiders say Sununu can accomplish so much by helping the eventual GOP nominee win the Granite State, he doesn’t need to enter the White House race to move up the ladder in the national GOP. They also note that, despite Sununu’s obvious political talents — he’s consistently one of the most popular governors in the country — he’s never been known as a stellar fundraiser.
“If you’re not going to raise $100 million, you’re not a serious candidate for president,” one veteran GOP strategist said.
But if he’s not running for president, some ask, why does he keep kicking dirt on Gov. Ron DeSantis?
Sununu has repeatedly criticized the Florida Republican for his willingness to use state power to fight “wokeness” by targeting private businesses and local schools. “My argument is the government is not the solution to cultural issues,” Sununu said on CNN Sunday.
It’s not a new message. He even included it in his January 5 inaugural address:
It’s not right to tell a private business what they can or cannot do. It’s not the New Hampshire way to force locally elected — and accountable — school districts or town councils to bend to your will.
That’s not leadership, that’s not conservative, and it is certainly not freedom.
That’s taking the easy way out. Leadership is about knowing the limitations of your own power, getting government out of the way, and empowering individuals and families to make the best decisions for their families or businesses.
At the same time, Sununu also said Sunday that, right now, DeSantis “would likely win New Hampshire, without a doubt.”
A New Hampshire Journal/Coefficient poll released Saturday found Sununu at 13 percent among Granite State Republicans in a theoretical race for the nomination. He trailed Donald Trump (37 percent) and DeSantis (26 percent). No other candidates broke the five percent barrier.
However, a University of New Hampshire poll released just days earlier put Sununu’s support at just four percent.
Asked about a Sununu candidacy and the polls, Republican Majority Leader Jason Osborne (R-Auburn) said, “It’s no surprise that while the rest of the country may want to steal Sununu from us to be President, New Hampshire just isn’t ready to let him leave.”