New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu insisted Republican presidential candidates can take down frontrunner Donald Trump in the state’s ever-important early primary — but they have to be willing to criticize the former president.
Speaking Saturday morning on Fox News, Sununu pointed to a recent University of New Hampshire poll as proof that Trump’s competitors have a chance to topple him in the Granite State, whose early primaries have historically been a harbinger of a candidate’s potential success — or failure — later in the contest.
That survey showed the former president polling at 37 percent, followed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at 23 percent and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) at 8 percent.
“That’s 60% of the voters right now that are not with Trump in New Hampshire,” Sununu said. “I think that number will grow even more and more.”
But despite his repeated insistence that Republicans should not pick Trump for 2024, Sununu has yet to endorse a preferred candidate.
Trump has not endured significant criticism from many contenders in the GOP field, who are aware of his committed base of supporters. However, Sununu was adamant that Trump’s competitors need to be willing to take on Trump directly — especially if the opportunity presents itself on the debate stage.
Asked about what risk candidates might have if they attack Trump, Sununu responded: “Nothing.”
“I don’t know the political strategy here. They risk upsetting a voter that they’re not going to get in the first place, right?” he added.
Trump has remained mum on whether he will attend the first GOP debate in August. And the candidate most poised to match up with Trump — DeSantis — has stumbled in his campaign so far, particularly in New Hampshire.
In the interview, Sununu also pushed back on the possibility that he would run for president, either as an independent or under a No Labels ticket. The high-profile Republican governor announced on Wednesday that he would not run for reelection to his seat in 2024.