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New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has backed off his prediction that 2024 GOP presidential contender Nikki Haley, whom he supports, will win big just days ahead of his state’s primary.
About a month ago, Sununu predicted that the former South Carolina governor would win the primary in a “landslide” and is now saying that a strong second-place finish behind Republican frontrunner and former President Donald Trump would be good enough, the New Hampshire Journal reported.
His updated position aligns with the prevailing circumstances in the Granite State, the outlet noted, adding that Trump’s substantial lead over the rest of the field in Iowa, by a margin of 30 points, coupled with his consistent double-digit advantage over Haley in the polls, suggests he’ll have a good night come Tuesday.
Soon after endorsing Haley in the GOP presidential race, Sununu told ABC’s Jonathan Karl in mid-December: “It’s an absolute win. It’s a win and a reset button. If everyone that could vote in the primary comes out and votes … she’s going to win in a landslide, and that’s not an exaggeration.”
On Jan. 3, Sununu told a Haley town hall in Londonderry, “We’ve got that wrapped up, guys … we’re gonna win.”
Now, however, the governor is telling reporters a second-place finish in the first GOP primary will be a Haley victory, the Journal said.
“We’ve already exceeded expectations in terms of a one-on-one race,” he told Fox News on Thursday. “You know, a strong second is going to be great; that’s wonderful.”
He went on to say that Haley, a UN ambassador under Trump, now has “the chance to do what no one thought was possible” and change the trajectory of the race.
Asked Thursday if New Hampshire is a must-win for Haley, Sununu responded: “It’s a must-win for Trump. He’s the one that basically promised everybody that this is a hands-down [win], it’s over.”
“Last time I checked, Trump got about 56,000 votes in Iowa. If 56,000 votes can decide the choice of the Republican Party in America — hell, no,” he added.
The N.H. Journal added:
Sununu apparently revised his expectations after two new polls showed GOP frontrunner Trump surging to above 50 percent among likely GOP primary voters in the Granite State. Haley’s support remains in the mid-30s.
Haley has drawn criticism after backing out of two scheduled New Hampshire debates with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. She has said she will only step foot on a debate stage if Trump agrees to participate. Trump has refused to participate in any Republican debates, arguing the party should unite around the former president.
Meanwhile, a former GOP presidential contender, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, isn’t backing his state’s former governor for the White House. On Friday, Scott threw his support behind Trump and urged the rest of the Republican Party to unite around him, according to Fox News.
“It’s time for us to unite our party so that we make sure that the only target we’re talking about is firing Joe Biden,” Scott said after formally backing Trump at a New Hampshire rally. “The best way for us to get rid of Joe Biden as our president is to unite our party now behind Donald Trump.”
Other former GOP contenders have also backed Trump.
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum joined forces with Trump at a rally in Indianola, Iowa, last weekend to express his support for Trump. Additionally, multi-millionaire biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy endorsed Trump on Monday night and suspended his own campaign following a disappointing performance in Iowa’s caucuses. Ramaswamy later appeared with Trump at a rally in Atkinson, New Hampshire the following evening.
“Scott…became the 26th GOP lawmaker in the upper chamber to back Trump. Nearly 120 House Republicans are also supporting Trump, as are 10 governors,” Fox noted.