By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Republican Gov. Chris Sununu appeared on CNN This Morning and stopped short of an endorsement announcement but said he believes there are three electable candidates for president in his party, all who have served as governors.
He listed former South Carolina Gov. and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as the best in the field and said after watching the third debate businessman Vivek Ramaswamy doesn’t have what it takes.
He spoke with co-anchor Poppy Harlow on CNN This Morning at 7:45 a.m. from Concord, N.H.
He also said the right position for Republicans on abortion is to let it be decided by the states, that national bans “scare people.”
He also said that he would not support outgoing West Virginia Democratic Senator Manchin if he ran as a third party candidate.
“I don’t know who I am endorsing yet,” Sununu said. “If you go back three months ago, there were like 13 candidates in the race. I think you can effectively say there are three that have a shot here, and those are the three governors: Christie, Haley and DeSantis. The three that clearly did the best on the debate stage the other night,” he said, referring to a debate held by NBC on Wednesday night.
It included the three governors, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy. Former President Donald Trump skipped the nationally televised debate for the third time.
Sununu has made it clear he does not support another term for the embattled Trump, who is way ahead in the polls for the Republican nomination.
Sununu said he liked the format of the most recent debate which allowed the candidates to get further into the details.
“Five on the debate stage, three governors who are really pushing hard their numbers are moving a bit in Iowa, New Hampshire and I think that is where a lot of the emphasis and focus is going to be. You see a lot of the consolidation there and if you get past New Hampshire and you get consolidated behind one, well there it is,” Sununu said.
“So, folks say we weren’t consolidating the field but we are. As a party we really are consolidating the field and really being forced to engage not for ten minutes in a debate but for twenty or thirty minutes and get into those details that Americans want to see,” he said of the debate.
There are other candidates, but they did not meet the threshold NBC had for participating in their debate.
Sununu has, in the past, called Trump a “loser” and criticized him for comments he made in a Univision interview this week where he talked about what he would do if re-elected again to use the Department of Justice to bring cases against politicians.
Sununu was asked about Ramaswamy, noting that in July, he said the businessman was “exciting people” but who “needs to bring a little more to it than being the other anti-woke guy.”
But after the third debate and hearing his personal attacks on other candidates, including a comment about Haley’s daughter, he has a new view.
“He brought more but it was enough to tell me that he ain’t the guy to be President. I mean, look, I think the third debate, this last debate, was just embarrassing for him, more than anything.
“He tried really hard to be kind of an anti-establishment outrageous type character, but he just proved he doesn’t have the temperament for the job. You are running for President of the United States. Act like you’ve been there. I think he again tried to take some shots at Nikki Haley. They were personal. You don’t go after somebody’s family, somebody’s daughter like that. That is just a cheap shot. Nobody watched that debate and said, ‘Oh yeah, I’m now with Vivek.’ No if anything he lost ground there and just proved he doesn’t have the temperament for it.”
Asked about the issue of abortion and was reminded that he called the issue an “albatross” for Republicans Sununu, who describes himself as pro-choice but signed a ban on abortions in New Hampshire after 24 weeks, said he thinks both Christie and Haley are answering the issue well by saying it is a state issue.
“Anytime we are talking about a national abortion ban we are in trouble. I don’t care how many weeks you put on it. Right? It doesn’t matter. National bans or national prevention that scares people as a whole. It’s going to be decided at the states and I think that’s where at least I think that’s where Nikki – I don’t want to talk for them – but at least that is my understanding with Nikki Haley and Chris Christie’s position and that is where it is going to be and that’s the right answer.”
The news this week that Senator Manchin is stepping away from the Senate and speculation that he may run for president as a third party candidate was also discussed.
Sununu said he has admiration for Manchin and said he has done a good job of trying to bring various political factions together and “he is not going away” but said he would support Republicans.
And asked if he is missing the spotlight, Sununu concluded that he was looking forward to spending the weekend baking cookies with his family and thinking about the upcoming ski season.