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‘Trump Is F’ing Crazy!’: Sununu Steals Show at D.C. Insider’s Dinner

It may have been a Washington event for D.C. insiders, but it was New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu who stole the show at the return of the annual Gridiron Club dinner Saturday night.

And his biggest laughs came at the expense of former President Donald Trump.

The white-tie and snark affair is part of the fabric of elite D.C. culture, with politicians, lobbyists, and journalists gathering for a night of schmoozing. Always a bipartisan affair, Sununu was representing the GOP while Rep. Jamie Raskin did the comedy work for the Democrats.

According to Politico’s reporter on the scene, Sununu went straight after Trump:

“You know, he’s probably going to be the next president,” Sununu said of Trump, musing about his “experience,” “passion,” “sense of integrity” and the “rationale” he brought to his tweets. As the room quieted to see where he was going with this, he paused, then yelled: “Nah, I’m just kidding! He’s F***ING CRAZY!” The ballroom roared with laughter. “ARE YOU KIDDING?! Come on. You guys are buying that? I love it … He just stresses me out so much! … I’m going to deny I ever said it.”

It didn’t stop there: “The press often will ask me if I think Donald Trump is crazy. And I’ll say it this way: I don’t think he’s so crazy that you could put him in a mental institution. But I think if he were in one, he ain’t getting out!”

While edgy comedy is a Gridiron Dinner tradition, Sununu went out of his way to target the former president. When he mocked conspiracy theorist and pillow manufacturer Mike Lindell, he threw in a shot at Trump.

“This guy’s head is stuffed with more crap than his pillows, Sununu said. “And by the way, I was told not to say this, but I will: His stuff is crap. I mean, it’s absolute crap. You only find that kind of stuff in the Trump Hotel.”

Also from Politico:

Sununu also told a story about a time Trump visited him in New Hampshire and invited him to ride inside the presidential limo, The Beast. The then-president suddenly stopped talking and pointed out the window at people lining the road holding American flags, saying, “They LOVE me!” Only problem, said Sununu, was that the man he pointed to held a sign that read, “F*** TRUMP.”

While some Granite State Republicans shrugged it off as comedy — “It’s a Gridiron roast. Political jokes. I don’t take any of it seriously,” said RNC Committeeman Chris Ager — Trump allies like longtime advisor Corey Lewandowski were not amused.

“Chris Sununu is not his father. His father is very tough and a true Trump supporter,” he told NHJournal. “If Chris had any guts, he would have run for U.S. Senate, and instead took the easy way out. And if the right Republican were to run against him, I’d be willing to bet Donald Trump would endorse [Sununu’s] opponent.”

Former GOP state Rep. Josh Whitehouse, who served in the Trump administration, was even blunter:

“Chris Sununu has positioned himself to be the anti-Trump guy. He is appointing Democrats to judgeships, supporting anti-Trump candidates, and spiking a great redistricting plan to protect his beer buddy [Jeff Cozzens] in CD2. I guess the only thing I am surprised about is that he isn’t running on the other side of the ticket.

“Of course, nothing should surprise any of us when the governor is a guy whose only real qualification was his last name,” Whitehouse added.

In February, Lewandowski told radio host Howie Carr, “The president is very unhappy with the chief executive officer of the state of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu. And Sununu, in the president’s estimation, is someone who’s never been loyal to him. And the president said it would be really great if somebody would run against Chris Sununu.”

This is a far cry from the days when Sununu infamously called himself a “Trump guy through and through.”

Team Sununu took the reaction in stride.

“The Gridiron dinner is an annual comedic event built around using self-deprecating humor to instill a spirit of bipartisanship,” Sununu advisor Paul Collins, said in a statement Sunday. “Gov. Sununu began by making fun of his own father and family and included jokes on everyone from CNN to Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, and Jenn Psaki. It was a great night where no one took themselves too seriously, and given the crowd’s reaction to some of the governor’s jokes, he will be keeping his day job.”

While attacking Trump isn’t exactly the third rail of GOP politics, it does put Sununu at the center of the biggest debate dividing the Republican Party. Last week’s St. Anselm College Survey Center poll found Trump’s approval rating is 84 percent among registered Republicans and 94 percent among very conservative Granite Staters.

That compares to 86 percent among GOP voters who approve of Sununu, and 83 percent of very conservative Republicans.

Trump is even more popular in early primary states like Iowa and South Carolina, where he handily defeated Biden in the 2020 election. (Trump lost New Hampshire by 7.5 points.)

Republican strategists in New Hampshire and D.C. told NHJournal Sununu’s aggressively anti-Trump stance is a sign he is looking seriously at a presidential bid in 2024. He appears to be betting big that GOP primary voters will have a very different view of Trump in 18 months than they do today.

“This is a huge gamble,” one GOP strategist said. “There is no walking this back.”

“I’d say it’s a win for the governor,” GOP campaign vet Craig Stevens told NHJournal. “He took advantage of the moment and he showed people he’s not afraid of President Trump. And he did with charm, humor, and humility.”

Stevens, who worked on the George W. Bush and Mitt Romney campaigns said that, as a result of this speech, “Republicans and independents all over the country who had never heard of Chris Sununu are going to be talking. And many who may be looking for an alternative to Trump and his acolytes have someone new to watch. And, in this case, that’s the definition of a win.”

If that was Sununu’s goal, it worked. In addition to being the top story in the Politico Playbook, his comments made headlines in The Washington Post, the Associated Press, and the Big Three broadcast newsrooms, plus the London (U.K.) tabloids.

While more than 600 people attended the purportedly bipartisan event, only two GOP members of Congress, Sens. Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Susan Collins (Maine), showed up for the dinner. President Biden was also a no-show, but he sent a video in which he thanked Sununu for “helping Democrats keep the Senate.”

In January, Biden gave Sununu a shout-out during a press conference, using Sununu’s criticisms of Senate Republicans to defend his own record in the White House.

Few Granite State Republicans wanted to speak on the record about Sununu’s take on Trump. In the U.S. Senate primary, retired Gen. Don Bolduc and state Senate President Chuck Morse declined to comment. However, former Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith said he believed the goal among Granite State Republicans should be unity as the midterms approach.

” I continue to believe our party is better and stronger when we are united, and I have no doubt that in November, we will be. As for me, I’d gladly go back to when we had no inflation, $2 gas, were energy independent, had secure borders and our country was safer.

“Say what you want about Trump, but we were much better off two years ago than we are today – and that’s no joke,” Smith said.

Don’t Call Me ‘Kasich:’ Sununu Rejects ‘Anti-GOP’ Label

Gov. Chris Sununu is happy to debate his support for Education Freedom Accounts, his push to get communities to build more affordable housing, and his problems with the congressional maps drawn by the House GOP majority.

Just don’t call him “John Kasich.”

The New Hampshire Republican has been making news of late by criticizing members of his own party, in particular former President Donald Trump. He has said Republicans in the U.S. Senate are “just as bad” as their Democratic counterparts — a comment quoted by President Joe Biden in his most recent press conference to push the blame for his legislative failures on the GOP.

He has criticized Trump’s suggestion criminals who participated in the January 6 Capitol riot should be pardoned, and he called Trump “misinformed” when he repeatedly claimed (without evidence) New Hampshire’s 2020 election results were in doubt.

But when asked if he is moving into the “John McCain, John Kasich” lane of GOP politics — “The Republican who runs on the fact that he hates Republicans” — Sununu says absolutely not.

“Don’t compare me to John Kasich. John Kasich is an angry guy who goes out of his way to bash his own party. That’s crazy,” Sununu told NHJournal on Wednesday.

As for his critiques of the GOP, Sununu said he was simply upholding a standard he believes leaders of both parties should maintain.

“I’ve expressed frustration, but I didn’t call anyone out by name. Most Americans are frustrated with both parties. Democrats spent four years stonewalling President Trump, and Republicans stonewalling now. And both parties, when they’re in a majority, not reaching out to find consensus.

“I just demand a higher sense of accountability from my fellow elected officials. I think everybody does. I’m not about bashing Republicans,  not at all.”

A few hours later, Trump advisor and Granite State GOP strategist Corey Lewandowski told radio host Howie Carr the former president had tasked him with “finding someone to run against Chris Sununu.”

The governor did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

Sununu was traveling between Cato Institute appearances in Florida and flying to the island Republic of Cabo Verde for a signing ceremony to officially establish a State Partnership under the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program.

A few days earlier, he met with Canadian ambassador to the U.S. Kirsten Hillman. Asked if he was burnishing his foreign-policy credentials in advance of a 2024 presidential bid, Sununu just laughed.

The New Hampshire governor was in Florida to tout his state’s Cato ranking as the freest state in America. And for Sununu, that also includes the state’s new Education Freedom Account (EFA) program. Democrats spent most of this week pushing legislation to dismantle or restrict EFAs, which allow students to take the state’s share of their public school funding and use it for private, parochial, or other non-public education options.

The program, in its first year, has more than 1,600 participants.

“The EFAs have been a phenomenal success, and folks who are trying to get rid of them are stuck in an antiquated mentality, as opposed to saying ‘the family and the kids come first,” Sununu said. “Everybody sees it as a success, and most importantly those families are seeing the success — especially the lower-income ones. So we’re excited to keep it growing.”

He also had harsh criticism for EFA opponents like state Rep. Marjorie Porter (D-Hillsborough), who recently testified before the House Education Committee that she pulled her own son out of public school and sent him to a private academy. “It was good we had that option,” she said, though she opposes letting low-income families use state funding to do the same.

“That’s exactly the type of hypocrisy we need to get out of government,” Sununu said. “People see right through that. They’re disgusted by it. The ‘good enough for me, but not for thee’ type of mentality.”

Interestingly, education is also part of what Sununu believes is the biggest challenge facing New Hampshire — a lack of housing. Communities are reluctant to allow new housing construction, particularly housing for younger families because they are convinced educating their children will increase property taxes.

Sununu says that’s misguided NIMBYism.

“Just because of demographics, our schools are going to lose three to five percent of kids over the next few years, so it’s not like they’re going to be overrun with children,” Sununu said. In fact, if we can bring in families, it’s just the opposite. The community’s going to grow, you’re going to avoid funding crises. So you want a healthy balance, I get that.

“But this 1990s mentality of fearing young families moving into your community because they’re going to increase costs to your community? That’s old-fashioned thinking that will just lead to bad economics for that town.”