New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, left, and former President Donald Trump.
AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty; AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File
NH Gov. Chris Sununu blasted efforts to remove former President Donald Trump from GOP primary ballots.”This would only boost his opportunity to play that victim card down the road,” he told CNN.Sununu is a prominent Trump critic, but described Maine’s ballot ruling as “politically motivated.”
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu on Sunday called out efforts to bar former President Donald Trump from the 2024 primary ballot, arguing that such actions only boost the ex-president’s use of the “victim card” in the GOP presidential campaign.
Sununu told CNN host Dana Bash he agreed with GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie’s assessment that the efforts to disqualify Trump would turn the ex-president into a “martyr.”
“Of course! Donald Trump has played this victim card wonderfully over the past year,” Sununu said. “Nothing on policy, nothing on the future of America, but that victimization thing, which — the irony there is just incredible, frankly.”
“This would only boost his opportunity to play that victim card down the road as we hit the primaries. It’s not helpful at all, and I just don’t think it’s right,” he continued. “I think, again, the US Supreme Court will likely overturn both of these challenges and we can all move on with him on the ballot in all 50 states.”
Sununu then tossed more cold water on the ballot efforts.
“Look, if there was any validity about keeping Trump off a ballot, you would see 48 other states trying to do the same thing,” he said. “Personally, I think this was very politically motivated by the Maine secretary of state. Trump should be on the ballot. Everybody understands that.”
Sununu, who has been highly critical of Trump’s third presidential bid, has sought to use his political capital to boost former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in his state’s pivotal primary on January 23, 2024. New Hampshire is known for disrupting the conventional narrative of the presidential nominating process.
Long known as a haven for independents and the sort of moderate New England Republicanism that has fallen out of favor in the conservative-dominated party, New Hampshire could play a transformative role in the GOP primary if Haley were to win outright, given Trump’s long-standing polling edge in the state.
Last week, Christie criticized Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows for removing Trump from the 2024 primary ballot, stating that the move played into the former president’s political grievances.
“You know, he’s very good at playing ‘Poor me, poor me’ — he’s always complaining,” Christie told CNN. “The poor billionaire from New York who’s spending everybody else’s money to pay his legal fees.”
Bellows, a Democrat, ruled that Trump was ineligible to appear on Maine’s ballot due to his conduct before and during the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021. The secretary of state cited Section 3 of the 14th Amendment in her 34-page decision, which prohibits individuals from holding office who have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the US Constitution.
The Colorado Supreme Court in a 4-3 ruling earlier this month also removed Trump from appearing on the state’s primary ballot, but the decision was paused to allow an appeal. (The Colorado Republican Party has since appealed to the US Supreme Court over the ruling.)