For weeks, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has been declaring Donald Trump dead on arrival as a Republican candidate in the 2024 general election. This week, Sununu stepped up his attacks, calling out Trump over reports the former president might not participate in any GOP primary debates.
“I think the word is ‘wimping out,’” Sununu told WGIR radio Wednesday morning. “Donald Trump says he’s a fighter, but he’s not going to enter the ring? Give me a break.”
“That’s being a coward,” Sununu added. “Man up. Put your big boy pants on, get on the stage with all the candidates, and let’s have it out! Let’s see where you really stand.”
On Thursday, Trump fired back.
“He’s way down in the polls, he’s at one percent nationally, he’ll never do it,” Trump told radio host Jack Heath regarding a potential Sununu POTUS bid. “He hasn’t got a chance; it’s sort of sad to see it. It’s fool’s gold.”
Trump picked up that theme during his speech in downtown Manchester later in the day.
“Your Governor Sununu, he’s sort of a nasty guy — is he a nasty guy?” Trump said, inspiring boos from the New Hampshire crowd by mentioning Sununu’s name.
“It’s funny, his father [former Gov. John H. Sununu] was very tough. But when I won, he became one of my best supporters. This guy doesn’t have the same qualities,” Trump said.
Trump added Sununu should have run for the U.S. Senate, not president. “But he’s playing games,” Trump said, before pointing out he’s leading Sununu in New Hampshire 58 to 7 percent.
Later in the speech when he was addressing the fentanyl crisis, Trump threw down on Sununu again. After mentioning New Hampshire has some of the worst numbers on fentanyl addiction and overdoses in the nation, Trump added: “That’s what Gov. Sununu should focus on, not running for president.”
Sununu is hardly the only Republican publicly criticizing Trump. Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) has been an outspoken critic of the former president, who he worked closely with during the 2016 and 2020 campaigns. Christie also says Trump can’t win a general election, and he’s attacked his fellow Republicans for not taking on the former president.
“It’s like he’s Voldemort,” Christie told an audience at New England College in Henniker last week. “You’re not going to beat someone by closing your eyes, clicking your heels together three times and saying there’s no place like home.”
Trump returned the favor Thursday by calling the former New Jersey governor “sloppy Chris Christie.”
“He’s got a big mouth, that’s all he got,” Trump added.
Sununu’s full-throated attacks on Trump — calling him a “four-time loser” earlier this month and “f***ing crazy” at the Gridiron Dinner last year (Sununu says it was a joke) — have Granite State GOP insiders wondering if Sununu is really serious about running for president.
“Being anti-Trump isn’t necessarily a problem, if you’re out backing that up by campaigning,” one longtime New Hampshire Republican told NHJournal. “But he’s not. He’s not going to Iowa. He’s not building an organization. So it raises questions.”
Trump talked more Sununu on WMUR after his speech. “He made a big mistake by running for president, if he’s even running,” Trump said. “Guys like Sununu, they’ve got to come up with something.”
“He’s just a little bit cuckoo,” Trump added.