Transcript: New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu on “Face the Nation,” Jan. 14, 2024

The following is a transcript of an interview with New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, that aired on Jan. 14, 2024.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we turn now to Governor and Nikki Haley supporter, Chris Sununu, who joins us from Newfields, New Hampshire. Good to have you back with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: So Governor, Donald Trump won New Hampshire’s primary in 2016. It legitimized his campaign; it helped launch him to the presidency. He’s leading again in the New Hampshire polls. So, is this really just about Nikki Haley potentially coming in second place?

GOV. SUNUNU: No, no, not at all. Look, I mean, the media has been- has told the world that Donald Trump was gonna win every state and run away with this. It wasn’t even going to be a race. It obviously is a race. Nikki Haley is the only candidate surging in Iowa and New Hampshire. You know, the fact that if Nikki can post a strong second here, that would- that’s great and we’re going to do that. But now there’s even a chance of kind of shattering the presumptions that Donald Trump’s gonna run away with this. And that happens right here in New Hampshire. She can challenge him to beat- to win this state go into her own- her home state with nearly a month of campaigning there. She knows how to win there. And that, again, just breaks down this assumption by the whole country that it’s- that it’s Trump’s to- to be had. So, by doing that, you kind of hit a reset if you own the entire campaign narrative and put Nikki right at the top of the heap.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you said recently that if your candidate doesn’t win the nomination, you would still support the party nominee. But back in June, when you said you personally decided not to run for president, you said if Trump wins, Republicans will lose again. He didn’t deliver on his promises to drain the swamp, secure the border and instill fiscal responsibility. He has numerous investigations. He’s peddling conspiracy theories. So why do you no longer have such a strong conviction?

GOV. SUNUNU: I absolutely do. Look, I’ll–


MARGARET BRENNAN: — But you would support him if he’s the nominee?

GOV. SUNUNU: — I would support him- but- Yeah, I never said I wouldn’t support him. And we never said we wouldn’t support the Republican nominee but understand the candidate to go up against Donald Trump.

MARGARET BRENNAN: — No, but you said it would be harmful–

GOV. SUNUNU: — Yeah, but- but I didn’t say it wasn’t gonna support him. Republicans are going to support him. This would be a nail biter race come November. With Nikki Haley at the top she wins by ten- ten points. It’s a fundamentally different argument because you get the Senate, you get the House seats, you get the governorships, you get all the way down the ticket, the Republicans win.  Donald Trump is just simply the weakest candidate. And so again, that’s the opportunity that Nikki brings to the table.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay, I’m sorry, you’re saying you would still support the weakest candidate, even though it would hurt your party in down-down ballot races just to be consistent?

GOV. SUNUNU: Margaret, we’re talking about the general election here.


GOV. SUNUNU: Trump versus Biden, right? You think I’m gonna vote for Joe Biden, with what he’s done to this country with what he’s done with- with inflation and crushing middle- middle American families. I think Trump’s the weakest nominee and would have a tough time beating Biden, for sure. But we’re going to support the Republican nominee. But at the end of the day, that’s why Nikki Haley is surging, that’s why so many people are getting behind. That’s why again- you can sit- I tell the folks in Iowa, New Hampshire, you can sit on the couch and wait to see what happens. Or you can go caucus for Nikki Haley and Iowa. You can make sure you vote in New Hampshire. The higher the voter turnout, the better chance there is of defeating Donald Trump. And that happens- don’t wait for a court case, don’t wait for external factors that aren’t going to happen. That’s going to happen at the- at the- at the ballot box. And that’s the opportunity over the next 10 days to turn this entire narrative around that Trump is just going to run away with this thing. Nikki’s the- the opportunity for the Republican Party.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, 2022 was the most dangerous year for overdoses in New Hampshire since 2017, which was the same year Donald Trump called your state a drug infested den. What do you think, on the serious matter of addiction in this country, what is happening in your state that has had addiction, specifically, now with fentanyl, only continued to be a problem through these administrations?

GOV. SUNUNU: Well, yeah, again, you’re looking at small data. Since 2017, fentanyl driven deaths in this country have exceeded 60% increase, we’ve gone down. We’ve actually gone down, and our numbers will be lower than 2022, even again this year. So, our model is actually breaking the national trends. Our model is one where we provide rural access to care. We’re not just pumping more money into old systems; we’ve rebuilt our entire system around it. We used to be one of the number one, number two, in terms of drug and fentanyl driven deaths in the country. We’re now around 23, 24. So again, we have a lot of work to do, the entire country does but understand the entire country has skyrocketed, where we’ve actually gone down and broken that mold. I think we have a terrific model here. It’s working. It’s going to take time. You then implement that around mental health services as well. You implement that around all the other services. The majority of services in this country are focused on the inner cities. It’s wrong. It’s not the best way to do it. You have to have that rural access to care, especially around fentanyl and overdoses and xylazine all these other new drugs that are kind of coming onto the market. We’ve been on the forefront of that stuff.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Governor, we wish you luck with that. Thank you for your time this morning. We’ll be right back

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