Chris Sununu will not be president in 2025. The New Hampshire governor confirmed it in a Washington Post op-ed on Monday. Instead of announcing a doomed presidential bid, Sununu gave his thoughts on the 2024 election from a moderate northeastern Republican perspective. It wasn’t a great piece.
Sununu said the top priority on the Republican side is preventing Donald Trump from winning the primary. That’s the wrong approach. The top priority for the Republican Party should be taking back the White House from Joe Biden. While Republicans can debate on their nominee, beating Biden should top sticking it to Trump, who’s currently the favorite to win the primary. His odds will increase every time a Mike Pence or a Chris Christie enters the race to split the anti-Trump vote.
Sununu correctly points out that some political issues are divisive and can alienate voters. He wants Republican presidential candidates to avoid discussing abortion, books in schools and libraries, and dictating public school curricula. There’s an irony here because Trump's chief primary challenger, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, fits all three boxes, unlike the former president.
However, the Republican Party will lack the votes to legislate abortion, even if they win back the White House, and books and public school curricula are state and local issues. A GOP president could and should defund Planned Parenthood, but they shouldn’t make some incremental effort to regulate abortion as healthcare a chief plank of a presidential platform. The abortion industry must cheer when the GOP fights for so-called safe and legal abortion. Ignoring abortion doesn’t stop the killing, so federal Republicans should focus on reducing the demand for it rather than carefully trying to craft doomed policies that regulate the so-called right to one. Also, education issues belong to the states and municipalities, though Sununu is wrong to say Republicans shouldn’t address content teaching 12-year-olds about eating ass and blowjobs.
Sununu wants the GOP to avoid that cultural conservatism and instead reach out to independent voters by focusing on issues like homelessness, fiscal responsibility, inflation reduction, border security, and energy independence. Fiscal responsibility? Most voters aren’t supporters of fiscal responsibility. Voters don’t support cutting spending—except for foreign aid. They generally support increasing spending on what benefits themselves and cutting their taxes, neither of which is fiscally responsible. Past and present support for entitlement cuts makes the anti-Trump Republicans in the 2024 race, like Nikki Haley, DeSantis, and Mike Pence, less electable because you risk losing older, conservative voters who comprise the GOP base. People can argue that life expectancy has increased since the Great Depression, so the program should start at a higher age. However, entitlement reform is among the worst polling political issues in America. In 2015 when Trump said he wanted to ban Muslims from entering the United States, that outlandish anti-First Amendment position polled better than entitlement reform.
Of the other issues Sununu mentioned, inflation may subside to normal levels in the next year-and-a-half, homelessness is primarily a local issue, the border is a good place to attack Biden, and so is energy policy. Energy equals jobs in swing states, whether it’s coal mining and fracking in Pennsylvania, ethanol in Iowa and Wisconsin, or auto manufacturing in Michigan. Additionally, Sununu fails to mention that if the GOP wants to win the election and appeal to voters who typically don’t vote for Republicans, it should try focusing on different issues, like education/healthcare/childcare costs, the opioid epidemic, and ending the war in Ukraine.