New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu called on Republican candidates to seek out “separation” from Donald Trump as the former president remains the party’s front-runner following the first GOP presidential debate on Wednesday. (You can check out Sununu’s remarks in the clip below.)
In an interview Friday with “The Hill” on NewsNation, the Republican governor said candidates did a “great job” ignoring Trump despite his absence from the debate stage before declaring that they’ve “go to be able to take it to him.”
“I don’t think they have to go nuclear like Chris [Christie] does ... but everyone in their own way has to find separation with him,” Sununu said.
“And some of them are doing it; some of them aren’t. I think Nikki Haley did it pretty well, but that’s really the key: It’s not just attacking him but then finding out where your candidacy is, assessing it as we go through the fall and saying, ‘Look, when the time to back out is there, you’ve gotta back out.’”
In the days before the debate, Sununu urged candidates to “break free of Mr. Trump’s drama” and “go on offense.”
The GOP governor, who said in June he had decided against a White House bid, added that Trump would lose in a scenario in which there are fewer candidates.
“If the number of candidates challenging Trump winnow down, especially if it’s one-on-one, he loses. There’s no question. The Republican Party can go forward,” Sununu said.
“But that was really the opportunity of the debate the other night. For the first time in really six years ... six years since we’ve seen leadership in the Republican Party without Donald Trump and it looked pretty good. People are very happy with that debate. There’s a lot of energy, a lot of exchange of ideas. It didn’t fall flat,” he added.
Trump holds a lead of more than 37 percentage points over the next GOP candidate in an average of national polls, according to FiveThirtyEight.
“I’m opposed to him because he can’t win. I want winners,” declared Sununu, who pointed to GOP performance in the 2018 midterms, the 2020 presidential election, and the 2022 midterms.
“Him, his message, his candidates all lost, so why would we do this a fourth time and expect a different result?” Sununu said. “If there’s anything I’ve learned as a four-term governor, you cannot govern if you don’t win in November. And November of ’24, he’s proven he can’t do that.”