New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) slammed 2024 Republican candidates in an interview Friday night on CNN as he questioned why they aren’t speaking out and bringing up the federal indictment of former President Donald Trump as they look to face him on the campaign trail.
Sununu, a vocalTrumpcritic who teased but ultimately decided against a 2024 presidential run earlier this week, grilled the former president’s GOP challengers over why they “aren’t more aggressive” in their response to the indictment related to Trump’s handling of classified documents.
“[They’re] not more aggressive about calling it for what it is. It’s a huge problem, and mostly it’s a huge problem for the Republican Party. Once again, the former president is just a terrible message-bearer for the Republican Party, and it’s scaring independents away,” he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
Trump’s 2024 rivals for the Republican nomination have largely avoided direct criticism of him following the announcement of the criminal indictment, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.), former Vice President Mike Pence and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
Some candidates have made digs at Trump over the indictment, such as former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who referred to the criminal proceedings, set to begin with his arraignment Tuesday in Miami, as a “major distraction” and called on Trump to end his campaign.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, also in a CNN interview on Friday, described the indictment as “damning” and Trump’s conduct as “completely self-inflicted.” Trump is facing 37 counts related to his retention of classified documents that he took from the White House in January 2021 and kept stored at his Mar-a-Lago private club in Florida.
Sununu noted that it’s surprising that politicians “down 40 points in the polls” aren’t more vocal against Trump and claimed there are “real problems” in the Justice Department as he called out the 2024 GOP field.
“You’re running against a guy with 37 indictments against him. You almost look like you’re defending him at this point,” Sununu said.
“That does not look like a serious candidate that’s willing to take him on over the next six months to knock his poll numbers down and shoot you to the top. Either you want to run for president and beat the guy or you don’t.”