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Warning that a crowded GOP field helps Trump, Sununu says he's not running for president — but he'll back the nominee

N.H. Gov. Chris Sununu files for re-election June 10, 2022.
Dan Tuohy
/
NHPR File Photo
Sununu has said he would endorse the GOP's ultimate nominee in 2024, but argued that Republican must embrace a "course correction" away from Trump.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said Monday that he will not seek the presidency in 2024, arguing that Republican candidates with "no path to victory must have the courage to get out" of their party's increasingly crowded primary to stop former President Donald Trump.

The 48-year-old governor, who has emerged as a frequent Trump critic, made the announcement on CNN and followed up with a social media post and an op-ed in the Washington Post.

"I will not seek the Republican nomination for president in 2024," Sununu tweeted. "The stakes are too high for a crowded field to hand the nomination to a candidate who earns just 35 percent of the vote, and I will help to ensure this does not happen."

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Sununu was among a small group of Republican officials still openly contemplating a presidential bid. Even with his decision, the 2024 GOP White House field will be large.

Earlier Monday, former Vice President Mike Pence filed paperwork declaring his campaign for president. He joined a field that includes Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, U.S. Sen Tim Scott of South Carolina, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie plans to launch his own campaign Tuesday evening in New Hampshire, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum will announce his bid Wednesday in Fargo.

Sununu has said he would endorse the GOP's ultimate nominee in 2024, but argued in the op-ed that Republican must embrace a "course correction" away from Trump.

"If he is the nominee, Republicans will lose again. Just as we did in 2018, 2020 and 2022. This is indisputable, and I am not willing to let it happen without a fight," Sununu wrote, charging that Trump failed to deliver on promises to "drain the swamp," secure the border and instill fiscal discipline while in office. He also noted Trump's many legal challenges.

Trump's team has been delighted by the size of the Republican presidential field, believing the more candidates there are the easier path he'll have to the party's nomination.

In 2016, Trump was able to win New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation presidential primary with just 35% of the vote because more than a half dozen Republican opponents divided up the remainder.

"No one can stop candidates from entering this race, but candidates with no path to victory must have the discipline to get out. Anyone polling in the low single digits by this winter needs to have the courage to hang it up and head home," Sununu wrote. "Too many other candidates who have entered this race are simply running to be Trump's vice president."

Sununu, who was recently elected to his fourth two-year term as New Hampshire governor, did not rule out a future run after 2024.

By not running next year, he said, he planned to speak with "a little more of an unleashed voice" to make the Republican Party bigger.

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