Gov. Sununu: Why New Hampshire’s Different

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu stops by Dispatch HQ to talk with Steve about his record, from pandemic response to school choice. With eyes towards 2024, they discuss The Granite State’s role in primaries, Sununu’s own presidential prospects, and his unfiltered thoughts about former president Trump.

Here is a rough transcript for reference:

HAYES: Governor Sununu, great to have you. Nice to have you in the very fancy Dispatch podcast offices and good to sit across the table. 

SUNUNU: Of Washington DC, my favorite place on earth.

HAYES: Now, I’m not very good at picking up on the obvious, but I think you were being sarcastic there.

SUNUNU: I just got off the airplane and already I need a shower. 

HAYES: This is a good place to start. Let me start there. You spent some time here. You grew up here. You went to high school outside of D.C. Thomas Jefferson High School. Very prestigious high school, well regarded, often ranked the best high school in the country.

It’s been in the news a bit lately. 

SUNUNU: It has, yeah. 

HAYES: Have you followed this controversy? 

SUNUNU: Oh yeah. 

HAYES: So this is the school where administrators didn’t give a heads up to National Merit Commandees and triggered this investigation, which has led to the discovery of a lot of schools not having done that. Have you followed it? Are you surprised that it’s happening? 

SUNUNU: Yeah, I’m, I’m following it. A lot of my former classmates are. We kind of chat about it, we still stay in contact a bit. From what I’ve read and from what I understand, it’s an absolute disaster. The fact that it’s not just a high school…I mean, if you’re withholding test information, merit information from a student, that in itself is deplorable. But the whole purpose of this high school is, I mean, it’s really a high school of nerds, right? Let’s just kind of own what it is. It’s like a little MIT. That stuff is really important to a lot of these students. They put so much effort and so much into that. And to think that you would have a principal or whoever was behind it, holding back results as their own responsibility to have an equity of outcomes. This country is not based on equity of outcomes. This country is based on equity of opportunity.

And if that’s the way it all really bears out, I think they’re doing a whole investigation. It’s just, it’s absolutely crazy. And, and as a parent, I have two teenagers in high school right now. If I found out that for some reason the merit results of my teenagers were being withheld from them and me to basically hold my kids back because we have to make everybody on the same playing. It’s beyond just getting fired, right? You gotta kind of have a bit of an upheaval of the entire system and say, what are we doing? What is the training going on within the Fairfax County system that would drive that? It’s a public school. 

HAYES: Yeah. I mean,, it has real world implications for these kids.They work hard. They achieve this thing, which is not easy to achieve. It’s something that you use in college admissions, potentially. I mean, now that it’s been discovered, it might not. And they’ve retroactively scrambled to let the kids- 

SUNUNU: But what if they hadn’t discovered it?

HAYES: Right.

SUNUNU: It really can have an impact on where those kids go to college, what they major in, that first major step in adulthood, in their career path and their life path. It is life changing for those kids and to think that one or two individuals behind the scenes are going to effectively hold kids back from their opportunity to equate outcomes, which by the way, doesn’t work. Right? We all know that. Not only is it inappropriate and wrong in itself, but it doesn’t work. I come from the Live Free or Die state, where individual liberty and freedom and opportunity is everything that we do. We create the opportunity, not just the government, but our communities. But you have to drive through that. But you do it with transparency, you do it with lifting people up, not holding people. 

HAYES: So you referred to Thomas Jefferson as sort of a nerd factory. You went from one nerd factory to another. You went to MIT, engineer by training. You’ve run successful businesses. Presumably given that background in engineering, you have sharp reasoning. Why would you choose to go into politics?

SUNUNU: I know, right? My wife asks me this all the time because there was never a sense of going into politics, right? My dad was a former Governor and White House Chief of Staff. My brother was in politics, but I also have seven brothers and sisters. So three of us have gone into policy. We’re not a political family by New Hampshire standards. That’s nothing, right? In New Hampshire, everybody runs for office. That’s just absolutely the way it is. So, the two drivers for me; I had kids and they started going through public schools as I did through New Hampshire,

and we have great public schools in New Hampshire, but something wasn’t the same. The Common Core stuff was happening. This was back around 2014 and 2015. This wasn’t quite the public school that I had grown up in. I was getting complaints from teachers. When we were talking about it, at the same time, I was running my own business. I put an investment group together. I ran a valley resort, and my family is still involved in it. I’ve pulled myself away, but I was the chairman, CEO, general manager, on the ground everyday. I was in the Live Free or Die state, but there were all these massive state regulations bearing down, and I worked very hard to follow every rule. And I thought, ‘Man, if I have to struggle this hard to fill out all these forms and go through these review process, that just seemed mundane and pointless, what does a little guy do?’ Right? Because in New Hampshire, in the Live Free or Die state, I said, ‘This is just not right. So what I realized had happened… Every year it’s a creep, right? Government creeps a little bit here and a little bit there, and a little bit there. And after 20 years of basically Democrat governors, we hadn’t had a Republican governor except for one, two-year term. In 20 years we had kind of become like everybody else, but we’re not.

We are so different. And I’m really proud since I’ve become governor in the past six years. We’re the diamond in the rough up in the northeast. We’re the red state. We champion our individual freedoms. We managed COVID better than anyone. We stayed open. We did it in a reasonable way. We didn’t ignore the virus at all. We just put reason and common sense and transparency to everything, and it’s worked out well. Strongest economy, only state in the northeast that’s actually growing in population. So we have all these wonderful metrics. Now, still a lot of challenges, don’t get me wrong, but we’ve really been able to put the teams in place, the metrics, and most importantly, the sense of accountability that we’re in government. We have to get something done, right? I’m not putting my family through all this public scrutiny to not get anything done. It boggles my mind that so many people are willing to do that. I’ve had Republicans run my legislature. I’ve had Democrats run my legislature. We always find a way to do it. We always cut taxes. We always get rid of a little more regulation every year, and we’re always creating opportunities. So I love it. I love my job. I’m not gonna lie to you. I really love it.

HAYES: So, you’re at the beginning of your fourth two-year term. You talk about these accomplishments. What’s your single proudest accomplishment on a policy level? Over that time? What have you done?

SUNUNU: Boy, that’s a tough one. So I gotta tell you, we talked about school choice in New Hampshire for 40 years. I got it done. We don’t have sales tax, we don’t have income tax, but we did have this pesky thing called interest and dividends tax. And even Republicans said, ‘You can never get rid of it.’ Guess what? It’s going away. It’s gone. They’ll be gone. And we’re rolling it out. I passed a lot to actually get rid of that. But then overall, if I might, I was most proud of my team over COVID. I really was because everyone disappeared. Legislature disappears, everyone disappears. Most of the government disappears. It’s basically the White House and 50 governors. And to the White House’s credit at the time, we had former Vice President Pence who had been a governor, and he is the one that probably doesn’t get nearly enough credit as he deserves in making sure the White House let states do it as the states wanted to do it, right? It wasn’t, ‘Here’s the CARES Act money and here’s the 10,000 pages of rules you have to follow. Here’s the guidelines. You guys gotta really figure this out.’ Because what is good for New Hampshire might be different than Arizona or New York or even Massachusetts. And because of that we were able to really shine. And I say “we”, because it really was a team effort. I mean, I could write a whole book on those first early days of COVID, but I said, ‘Look guys, we don’t know what’s gonna happen. I’m probably done politically, right? Let’s just accept that I’ll never get elected again.’ I realized early on I was gonna have to make decisions that got everybody upset. I just assumed that would eventually happen 

HAYES: With respect to the vaccines, with respect to mandates?

SUNUNU: We didn’t even know there were vaccines at the time. This is back in March. 

It was clear that some people wanted complete shutdowns, right? Lock-in orders and all that, which we obviously weren’t going to. And some people wanted to ignore it completely, which we weren’t gonna do that either. So, we were gonna have to walk a fine line, which means everybody was gonna get upset with us.

At the end of the day we did it really well. Our secret sauce, if you will. I made sure that every time we made a decision, we brought the business community in. Restaurants would come to us and say, ‘Look, we wanna stay open.’ I said, ‘Great. Stay open.’ And they say, ‘But we want our customers to feel safe, let’s work on some guidelines together so the customers feel safe.’ Like we’re acknowledging it, but they still know that they can come in and we can stay open, still make money. And that’s what we did. We did it with hair salons and then we did it with car dealers. And, we let them, not the government, we let them design their own successes through the COVID pandemic. It was a massive amount of work. We were kind of standing on our own. And it really worked. And so overall, I’d say how we handled that in its entirety. Also the transparency piece, that was the most important thing through a crisis. You have to maintain public trust, right? And by the way, the White House was terrible at that at the time, right? In Fauci and all that kind of nonsense. But then the governors, we had to stand up and say, ‘Look, this is the data we’re seeing.’ I’m a nerd, so I’d show my data, I’d show the trends and why this is the decision we’re making and here’s the data that’s supporting that decision. And I would stand up there and I would let the press ask any question they wanted until they had nothing left to answer 

HAYES: That could be dangerous.

SUNUNU: Very dangerous. I went on live TV. My staff was like, ‘Don’t do this.’ But I said, ‘We gotta be transparent. We gotta own everything.’ So I went on live TV, on WMUR in New Hampshire a few times, like once a week. They would just shoot at me questions off of Facebook, like just the most sane and to the crazy questions, right? Things we had answered or not answered. And sometimes I’d have to say, ‘Look, that’s a great question, I don’t know.’ And then the next day at the press conference, I’d come back and say, ‘I was asked this, and here’s the answer.’ We can say we’re all in it together, or you can make sure that the community really understands we are all in it together. So, that was a very unique way of governing. I loved it. It was a great example I think of, of how to do it, and how to manage a crisis. Probably one of my more proud moments, that we really came through it. 

HAYES: Well, so you mentioned school choice. The educational freedom accounts, in New Hampshire. Certainly we’ve seen lots of progress on school choice for those of us who believe in school choice, lots of progress nationally over the past few years. The educational freedom accounts, pay for, or are available to children and families, earning 300% under the poverty level. That’s not everybody. Are you, are you prepared to broaden it? Is that a priority?

SUNUNU: I can tell you I’m gonna have a budget presentation in about two weeks and we’re gonna look into broadening it. For years they tried to do the voucher program and school choice for everyone. And I said, ‘Look guys, let’s get in the door. Let’s prove the model that it works and let’s focus on those that have the least access to school choice, low income families, right?’ A lot of ’em are inner city families. A lot of ’em are families that have never even been asked, ‘What do you want for your kids?’ And we’re gonna change that paradigm. And we did. Really exciting. So we started at 300% of the federal poverty level. A massive number of families took advantage. Way more than we thought. Very successful program. And we’ll broaden it. If I say, ‘Look, we’re just gonna make it available for everyone,’ that’ll never pass, right? The amazing aspect of my legislature right now, I have 400 members in my House of Representatives, right? 400. The third-largest parliamentary body. 

HAYES: It’s pretty evenly split too.

SUNUNU: It’s 2-0-1 to 1-9-9. It’s crazy. So nothing too extreme is gonna get passed, but we can get stuff done. And so yeah, I’m gonna propose an expansion of the program because it’s been so successful and there’s so many families that, again, just were never told and never offered that they had a choice and now they’re taking advantage, which is really exciting.

HAYES: When you look around, you spend a lot of time talking to other governors, your colleagues, Republicans and Democrats. When you look around and survey what other governors have been able to accomplish, is there anything that you look at from another governor and you say, ‘I wish I could do that.’ Or, ‘This has been successful. I’m jealous.’

SUNUNU: So let’s just start with school choice, right? So, I look back at what Jeb Bush did with school choice back in Florida. I look at what Doug Ducey did. He really expanded it in Arizona. He did a great job. In West Virginia, they did a really good job expanding school choice and we’ve looked at some of those models. You know, it’s funny, at least with the Republican governors, all the governors get along very well, generally speaking, compared to what you see in Congress, right? There’s a lot of bipartisanship because we’re not at each other’s throats. If anything, there’s a friendly competition and especially amongst Republican governors.  Those men and women are incredible. That’s my team. That’s one of the main reasons I didn’t wanna run for the US Senate because I knew I wasn’t gonna get a team like that again. If I needed a healthcare question, I’d call Charlie Baker in Massachusetts. That was his background. Right? On energy, I’d call Doug Bergmam from North Dakota, or Mark out in Wyoming. We talk about mining and minerals. I’d call Spencer out in Utah. I think everyone understands where they have their expertise, if you will. I don’t know what my expertise is –  individual liberty, freedom and really good government. The number one question I get is, ‘Wait, you keep saying you have no income tax, you have no sales tax. How is that possible?’ Right? And we’re ranked as the most efficient government in the country and that’s really one of the best rankings I can think of. You get the biggest bang for your buck for the few tax dollars you put in. So, when we talk about efficiency of government and kind of getting back to local control and what I think is the best government, which is not a topheavy government, not a heavy hand from the top, that’s probably where we’d come in a little bit. There’s some governments that are great on education and I’ve got to really change my education formula in New Hampshire. One of the dynamics, it’s gonna hit everybody soon, except for maybe a few states in the south. Gen Z is having less kids later in life, which means our schools don’t have as many kids in them, right? That is going to continue to decline, which means a lot of the funding models that are based on number of students in the classroom are going to start kind of collapsing. So, you’re gonna have schools going, ‘Wait, I keep losing money.’ Well, because you lost five more kids this year and 10 more kids next year. How do you create more sustainable models? I’m not a believer in those that say, ‘Well, if you just put more money into education, you’ll get better results.’ No, wrong. Not the case. But obviously, there is a fixed cost to keeping the lights on in the classroom. And so you gotta make sure you’re maintaining that and you’re also being an enticing and an attractive place for teachers to come to, not just because of pay, but because it’s a place they wanna work, they feel like they have a voice. So every governor kind of has their specialty. Some Democrat governors do as well. Gina Raimondo is a former governor of Rhode Island. We worked together quite a bit. She was just a really straight shooter to work with.

HAYES: Would you have been happy to call Carrie Lake and ask her what she would’ve done? 

SUNUNU: I never met Carrie Lake. Doug Mastriano, I have never met him. Sorry.

HAYES: So we’ll use that as our transition into some politics. 

SUNUNU: Into what?

HAYES: Into some politics. Well, we could do into crazy. 

SUNUNU: Doug Mastriano is now our transition into the abyss, the transition into what not to do. 

HAYES: You’ve been pretty open about the fact that you’re thinking about running for president. That doesn’t happen all the time. I mean, a lot of people play sort of coy. You haven’t been.

SUNUNU: Yeah. Maybe it was the COVID thing. I don’t know what it was. But, you asked me a question. I’m gonna give you a straight answer. I’m not here to couch my words. I’ll be, for the most part, as polite as I can be. I’m probably, my wife reminds me, I’m not nearly as funny as I think I am. I don’t think any politician is, but you know, I’m just gonna give you a straight answer. And so the straight answer’s yeah, of course. People are talking about it. So, of course we’re having those conversations as well. But, I would never get into a race like that unless I really thought we could move the dial. Obviously we’d want a chance to win. A lot of folks get in and run because they wanna be vice president. They run because they’ll sell their book, which are mostly God awful by the way. Have you read any politician’s books? 

HAYES: Too many of ’em, yeah. You’re not writing one then? 

SUNUNU: If I wrote a book, I would make sure it was really good. I’d probably write a funny book more than anything, on the hypocrisy of government that I’m witnessing all over the country. The hypocrisy of bad policies on both sides of the aisle. But no, we’re definitely talking about it. My biggest concern and the reason I’m doing a lot of national stuff lately is, I don’t know, it just seems like a lot of these would-be candidates try to be so coy about everything. It’s like, come on guys. They’re all my friends, Nikki Haley and Pompeo and Pence. These guys are all really good people and they’re all my friends and as kind of the referee of the first in the nation primary, I do have a responsibility and an opportunity to make sure that we do it right. It’s not just about how much money you raise or your name ID, you better get in the room and shake some hands and look some people in the eye because that’s what good government’s all about. That’s localizing your policies, that’s listening to someone and saying, ‘Look, you have all these great ideas up here at 30,000 feet, but at the end of the day, you know, my kid’s struggling in his classroom.’ Not that a governor just solves that by waving a magic wand, but understanding what those issues are, and then hopefully creating policies that create those opportunities for that family. Not telling ’em what they have to do or where they have to go. My job is to create as many doors of opportunity as possible. I’m the governor and I’m telling you, I ain’t here to solve your problems. The government is not here to solve your problems. We are really here to create those opportunities. Now, when you get at that grassroots level and you campaign at that level, great stuff can happen and real conversations can happen. And if I can drive that, all the better.

HAYES:  So let me jump in on the policy level, actually that’s an interesting point. You said ‘Government is not here to solve your problems.’ There are echoes of Ronald Reagan certainly in that. But that hasn’t been, I would argue, the main argument from national Republicans over the past seven, eight years. I mean, you look around, and certainly at the federal level, it’s hard to find a limited government.

SUNUNU: I know and it’s disappointing. I’m not giving up on it. People say all the time, ‘Well, the Republican party didn’t do as well in November of ‘22 as they should have done. So don’t you need to change?’ No, we just gotta remember what we are truly about. Get off the headlines, get off the political stunts. Get off the big government authoritarianism where I say, ‘Well, that guy doesn’t agree with me, so I’m gonna pound down on ’em.’ Hold it guys. We are about limited government, local control, individual responsibility, low taxes. Let’s just start there. That’s 80, 90% of what we can all agree on in the public court.

HAYES: But is it? Is it the case that 80-90% of Republicans agree on that? It seems to me that the sort of big government republicanism, the big government authoritarianism, to use your phrasing, it’s becoming more and more popular in a political culture where it seems as important or more important, not to get policy results, but to go after the bad guy. It’s to be disliked by the right people. How do you get past that? I mean, this has been true in, in your primary endorsements, right? You’ve done very well in the general election. Popular governor. 60% approval. You haven’t had success, as much success in your primary endorsements, I would say, in part because of that exact dynamic. 

SUNUNU: So, nationally, the Republicans and Democrats, I think at the core, values what we’re about, we can agree on, but the process at which we get those results, we start fracturing because it becomes more about the fight. You can raise money on the fight, you can get a headline on the fight. Look, you’re in fifth grade. You hear that there’s gonna be a fight after school underneath the jungle gym at three o’clock. Where is everybody at three o’clock? Yeah. Underneath to watch the fight. And social media figured out this model early on and they said,  ‘Let’s let people have at it. Let’s let people scream and fight and have it out because we’re gonna sell more of our product and we can advertise and make money.’ And a couple years later, mainstream media caught up and said, ‘ Why are we getting left behind? It’s all about the fight.’

HAYES: But the Republican base, to take your metaphor another step, would not want you to go and watch the fight. They would want you to go and be one of the combatants. And their criticism of Republicans in days past, they were too polite. They were fight watchers. We need a fighter. I would argue that’s the main reason Donald Trump won. 

SUNUNU: He connected at a gut level with folks’ anger. 

HAYES: In some cases, he was fighting on the other side of things that Republicans have argued for years.

SUNUNU: You mean former Democrat Donald Trump? Remember the days when Donald Trump was a democrat and Bloomberg was a republican, right? There was actually a day when  that New York bizarro world existed. But now obviously, the former president is just the quote unquote darling of the conservatives. But, whether he really holds those values and everything is something totally different to be debated because, to your point, and it’s the right point, our anger, excuse the pun, trump’s everything. People enjoy the political stunts. Now I hear people all the time say, ‘Oh yeah, you know, we don’t want big government telling us what to do.’ But yeah, whether it was DeSantis or Trump or whatever, you know, put their thumb down on that town or that school board, wasn’t that awesome? And I say, ‘No.’ I mean, I  might agree. I hate wokeism. I think this cancel culture stuff is terrible. But, are we actually saying that conservative cancel culture is ok?

HAYES: Is that what you see from DeSantis on some of these?

SUNUNU: No, not just Ron, but from a lot of folks. 

HAYES: You’ve been critical of them in the past. You’ve suggested that he is, in some ways, an avatar.

SUNUNU: He’s 2.0. He’s the new version, the 2.0, whatever it is. So, no, of course he is. And, look, he’s a good governor. I think people see me as critical of DeSantis because people ask me and I’m happy to talk about it. I don’t shy away and I’m sure people are very critical of me. That’s fine too. I love the constructive feedback. But, at the end of the day, people want that fight over being reminded that that isn’t what we’re about. I might hate a company for what they’re doing, they’re wokism and all that kind of stuff, but if it is a private company with private employees and a private chair, who am I? I’m the government. Who am I to tell that company who they can hire and fire? I ran my own company for a long time. If the government ever came in and said, ‘You should do this or shouldn’t do this, or we’re gonna penalize you because we don’t agree with you politically.’ My big fear is this – I’m not worried about what happens in ‘24. What am I, 48? I probably act like I’m 18. But, I’m more worried about ‘28, ‘32, 2036, because if we’re all about the fight, we’re never gonna expand our party. We’re never gonna get those Gen Z independents or Gen Z, what should be solid Republicans, that are kind of Democrats right now. We are not opening ourselves up. And, we don’t have the leadership and the voice out there that’s saying, ‘Hey, it ain’t about attacking people. It’s really about bringing people together.’ And I think the Republican Party has so much to offer, but we’re missing the opportunity because we get excited by a headline for a couple days. So, I’m just trying to be that, I don’t wanna say the voice of reason, but really that voice of optimism and hope. I understand there’s a fight that has to happen. But I just think that’s a short-term win. I’m a Republican that is trying to build for the long-term strategy.

HAYES: It’s such a striking change. I mean, just talking to you and listening to you and having talked to you before. The optimism comes through. It doesn’t feel forced. But, in a way it’s like, that’s not where the Republican party is right now. It’s the grievance party right now.

SUNUNU: I don’t think it’s where America is. It’s not just Republicans though. Let’s be fair. The Democrats are just as negative and dour. You walk out your door, most of America is in an incredibly fortunate, blessed place right now. Let’s wake up every day, let’s start every day, clap our hands and say, ‘Thank God I live in America and I don’t have to see my kids go off in a Ukrainian war,’ or whatever it might be. Right? Being scripted in Russia or deal with the craziness you see in parts of Africa or North Korea. I mean, there’s horrors in this world. Doesn’t mean we don’t have our problems, but let’s be blessed about our core of Americans first, and be excited about it and then build off of that optimism. I get excited about that and if we can try to drive that message a little more. I’m not saying everyone has to agree with me politically, right? Or, you know, I’m not rainbows and unicorns either. I mean, this morning I was in the State House working on some insanely tough issues. Rebuilding mental health and working on our opioid challenge. Which is a crisis across the country. Dealing with immigration issues, which again, is not a Texas issue. It is a 50-state crisis that Biden has blown it on. So we gotta take our challenge on the problems, but there’s so much economic opportunity right now. We really are blessed. So let’s grab onto those and then build from there as opposed to saying just like, Democrats, ‘This country is going to hell and capitalism and free markets don’t work.’ You bet they work. They are everything. Nothing works but a free market. I just try to be a principled, free market conservative and I’m trying to make sure people understand that that isn’t just a couple words, that we live to that. If I get a hold of a few people accountable along the long way, so be it. 

HAYES: As you think about a possible run, what are the factors that will push in one direction or another?

SUNUNU: Yeah. Well, again, I’m all about accountability and results. So if I think I can get the results that we’re looking for, absolutely I’ll do it. If I think that I’m just gonna get in the way and be another candidate, then no. How’s that gonna affect my family? I’m a governor of a state. I’m not like some of these guys that just can spend 24/7 for the last couple years running for president. My state comes first. New Hampshire comes first. The best part about being governor is I get to be super selfish. And by that, I mean, my job is to put the 1.4 million people of my state first every time without prejudice and just try. I want all the other 49 states to look at New Hampshire under any circumstance and say, ‘God dang, how they doing it? How is that guy doing it?’ I love that. I love that sense of competition, designing systems, understand how they work from the ground up. It’s one of my other big complaints. I think a lot of this negativity and the fight and all of that would dissipate if more politicians, more public servants would understand how these systems work. So, I can’t tell you how many people vote for things. And, I have had conversations with US senators, Republican and Democrat, congressmen, Republican and Democrat. When you say, ‘Well, you guys passed a law or a rule or a funding that says X, Y, and Z,’ and they have no idea, literally no idea what you’re talking about. And it’s like, wow, we have a mental health crisis. You don’t even know how an average family accesses mental health. My job is to design that system ground up, empower that local control. So parents feel empowered with what? Go back to what we started with, those doors of opportunity. A mom is in a mental health crisis. Her son is having issues. Whatever it is, I want every mom to know, ‘Alright, what is my first two steps that I can take?’ Because you’re not thinking straight, right? In a mental health crisis, you’re panicked. It’s a family issue. There’s stigma around it. What do I do next? Maybe it’ll go away on its own. But I want every family to know what to do. Or if there’s an opioid crisis or if there’s a healthcare crisis, or if there’s a pandemic, or if there’s a question about what their choices are for school. I just want every citizen to understand their options, but I only know that, and I can only create that if I understand how those systems work ground up. You look at these guys in Washington, are a joke when it comes to this.

HAYES: Well, you look at the disconnect between, I think, governors and other elected officials at the state level and politicians in Washington, and one of the most obvious places is on debt and deficits. Right? We’ve seen this sort of orgy of spending certainly under the Biden administration, first couple years of the Trump administration. Well before COVID, Donald Trump was spending more than Barack Obama. 

SUNUNU: Were you surprised by that though?

HAYES: Not at all. 

SUNUNU: Not at all. That was his history.

HAYES: But, I guess this goes back to the question we were talking about just a moment ago.  Where are the fiscal conservatives? Right now, we’re seeing a potential fight over the debt ceiling. And what you’re hearing from many Republicans who wanna make this a fight, and I’m an enthusiastic combatant if it comes to restraining the size and scope of government, but you’ve gotta actually get at the stuff that’s causing the problem in the first place. And that is entitlements. That’s driving our national debt.  Would you look at reforming entitlements? Will that be part of what you would run on? It’s, you know, the supposed third rail of American politics.

SUNUNU: Everyone panics about, ‘Oh, well you have to reform entitlements or not reform them.’ They’re missing a couple huge pieces. So let me take one step back because you’re absolutely right that so few people in Washington have any sense of any of this. I won’t say who it was, but I’ll tell you, when I was thinking about running for the US Senate, for the ‘22 election and all these senators are calling me, and I was actually at a conference and I was sitting with one US Senator who I know fairly well and I said, ‘Look, just explain this to me. Why doesn’t one Republican senator stand up and just try, say, ‘Here’s a first start at a balanced budget. Right?’ Well, it’ll never pass. Well have the discussion, force the vote, see what will work and what won’t. Get the easy stuff done. But they won’t even have the discussion. And they make it like it is absolutely impossible to do. No governor. You just can’t do it. And I get ticked off as a governor, I have to balance my budget every two years. And every two years I cut taxes and every two years I have a surplus. And that creates more opportunity to do new things and all that. And there’s no sense of that. And I had a Republican US Senator, a very high ranking member of the US Senate, tell me, balancing budget just isn’t that important because the American public doesn’t care. And I got really ticked off, and I won’t say exactly what I said, but I’ll summarize it.

HAYES: You can say exactly what you said, you’re welcome to tell us who it was too. 

SUNUNU: No, no. I’m not here to throw people under the bus, but he lives in town. But I got really upset and I said, ‘Man,’ I said, ‘You, you don’t get it.’ he said, ‘Well, you know, if we did these types of reforms, then we would be killed politically.’ And I said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘You’re such cowards. People will stand up and champion you for doing things that haven’t been done before. Even that might not be in their interest, and they might not agree with every policy or change that you made. They’ll understand.’ Look, I have to balance my home budget. My business has to balance its budget. And finally the government is standing up and saying the same thing. Does it need massive entitlement reform? No. You know what the key is? The 10th Amendment. States rights, we are a republic. Send it back to the states. You can cut massive amounts and create massive amounts of saving by sending effectively bigger block grants back to the states and letting the states decide what to do. The amount of bureaucracy that gets caught up in this stuff, the rules, all of these things that then translate to bigger costs on states and localities because now we have to follow the rules because Washington still has a mentality of one size fits all, as opposed to saying, ‘Look, what’s best for New Hampshire is not necessarily what’s best for anybody else, and vice versa.’ So if you send it back to the states, you create massive amounts of efficiency, you can maintain pretty much all of the entitlements. You really can. I mean, you might have to create reforms way down the road for new members coming in, but you don’t need to change anybody’s entitlement for those that are currently in the system. And it’s the, again, look at all the discretionary spending. We just spent this $1.7 trillion bill. I ask everyone to go. Every state. You should see the pork that is in that bill. It is out of control, but on the dumbest stuff.

HAYES: Just on a relative basis, discretionary spending on pork is nothing compared to medicare, medicaid interest on the debt. Social security is sort of its own problem. If you wait to make reforms so that they don’t affect people in the current system. Don’t you risk not attacking with the urgency that it requires? I mean, you read the trustees’ reports. They’re sounding the alarms. As loud as they possibly can. I think the challenge for so many Republicans is that these are popular programs, people don’t want them cut unless you make an argument, unless you try to persuade people.

SUNUNU:  And you know, I think a lot of folks see George W. Bush went out in 2005 with a lot of social security form ideas and all that, and just got pounded. I went back and looked at that and he got pounded less by the public and more by his own party and more by just the politicians saying, ‘Please don’t do this. We don’t wanna stand up and make the argument.’ So I really don’t think you need massive entitlement reform because we will continue to grow. We are going to have a strong economy when this inflation gets under control and, it could rail on the treasury and who should be fired at the treasury, starting with Janet Yellen and go right down the line for what they did with inflation, because that very well could have been controlled. But let’s start with leadership that understands fiscal responsibility. None of this is gonna matter if you don’t elect a president that actually understands and cares about balancing a budget.

HAYES: Or even talks about it. I mean, this is the thing I think that’s been missing. It’s not really part of the conversation. It’s pretty extraordinary given that we’re 31 trillion in debt.

SUNUNU: And we’re Republicans, and we’re fiscal conservatives first. So look, that’s one of the reasons I’m trying to push and stay out there as hard as I can because I was told we were gonna get immigration reform in ‘17 and ‘18 and we had Republicans in the Senate, Republicans in the House, a Republican president. We got nothing. Healthcare reform? We got nothing. Balancing the budget obviously got nothing. Debt management? We hired a guy who lives in debt and doesn’t believe in debt management, and knows how to take advantage of those systems. We could keep going down the line of all these things we should have gotten done. Would we be having the crisis, the immigration crisis today, if we had just done some of the reforms in 2017 and 2018, like Republicans said they were gonna do.

HAYES: Why don’t those reforms happen? And we’ve been talking about comprehensive immigration reform for decades.

SUNUNU: I gotta be honest on that one. That one I can’t figure out because you definitely have Republicans on one side and Democrats on another that would come together, not on every last thing you want. But, you put it all on the table like, this is what I do in Hampshire. Okay, here’s the 10 things I want and the 10 things they want. In immigration, the first five on both sides are pretty understandable, right? Maybe their side doesn’t want to build the wall. I think we should. I think you have to secure the wall, but their side wants other things that we want and again, you give a little, you get a lot, you negotiate it out. And if you can’t get everything you want, don’t put it all on the bill. Take some of it out of the bill. 

HAYES: I agree with that analysis on a top level, but doesn’t your analysis depend on the assumption that they want to get it done, that it’s not more useful as an issue?

SUNUNU: No, who’s winning on that issue right now? 

HAYES:  You know, who’s winning? Republicans running in primaries and Democrats running in primaries. In primaries, right? They can win primaries.

SUNUNU: Yeah, they can win primaries and be losers in November and that infuriates me that as a party, we keep nominating people that have no chance of winning in November. And if anything, you can disagree with my politics all you want, but please can we all agree that none of this matters unless you win in November. Right? None of it does. And if you’re electing somebody who can’t cross the line, then it’s futile. So I try to live by the example of, we’ve gotten a lot done. I’ve gotten it with Republicans and Democrats. I get politically rewarded. It doesn’t mean everyone agrees. Does every Democrat agree with what I’m doing in New Hampshire as a conservative? No, of course not. But they trust me. There’s a sense of trust there. They know what I’m about. I’m super transparent and when I said what I was gonna do on school choice, which obviously the teacher’s union, a lot of the Democrats hate. That’s exactly what I did. And when people said it couldn’t get done I didn’t accept that. And, again, are Democrats coming around to it? No, but it’s less of an issue today than it was two years ago, and it’ll be less of an issue two years from now. So you gotta, you gotta learn to take the incremental wins with it and then you build off of those wins.

HAYES: Let me ask you about Trump.


HAYES:  You knew it was coming. So, you gave this speech, the Gridiron dinner, this appearance at the Gridiron dinner last spring. And you said quote, Trump is effing crazy. But, you didn’t clean it up the way that I did.

SUNUNU: You don’t sell the joke the way that I did, who’s telling the joke. I feel like Michael Scott watching somebody not tell the joke the right way. It was a very good joke. And look, it was a roast. That’s what the Gridiron dinner is. That was a very fun night. I made fun of Biden.

HAYES: Tell the joke.

SUNUNU: No, I’m not gonna tell the joke. 

HAYES: I love it. I think that it’s great.

SUNUNU: The spontaneity of the moment. I’ll tell you this, why the joke went over so strong. 

I mean, it’s a pretty liberal room and I’m the one Republican that has to get up there. And, I got the room thinking I was going in a different direction and you could have heard a pin drop. And then I dropped the punchline and the place roared. Right? And it was kind of more of a shocking thing than anything. And also, I know the F word had never been used before in that. And, I’m the governor. I try not to use foul language, but it’s a roast. And look, I made fun of my, my father, right before that, I made fun of myself. I made fun of Biden. Jen Psaki was sitting right next to me. I was making fun of her and MSNBC. I made fun of everybody. It’s a roast, that’s what you’re supposed to do. And, everyone had a good time with it, so it was great. But look, the other half, no, he’s not, he’s not effing crazy, of course. But, when it comes to the former president, I’m not pro-Trump. I’m not anti-Trump. I’m like most Americans, I’m just moving on. Right? I think he did some really good things and I was very strong about standing up when he, as president, when he would do something that I agreed with, I’d say, ‘This is terrific.’ The vaccine, the regulatory form. The tax cuts, he did it. And he deserves all the credit in the world for doing that. But when he would stand up and say something that I disagreed with, or no, not the right tone, or it was insensitive or insulting, I would say that too.

HAYES: but on the crazy part specifically, there was a second part to your joke and I’ve got it. I was not there. I’m not violating any confidence. I read this in a publicly available place. I’m not there, I’m not part of the off-the-record agreement. You said ‘The press will often ask me if I think Donald Trump is crazy, and I’ll say it this way, I don’t think he’s so crazy that you could put him in a mental institution, but I think if you were in one, he ain’t getting out.’ So that’s a pretty good line. This laughter that you’re hearing from me is genuine. Are you serious? Do you think that’s real?

SUNUNU: No. Look, the former president, everyone knows he’s got a very big ego and all of that sort of thing. And there’s some narcissism in there, of course. And that’s what kind of creates the funny parts of those types of jokes, right? Because, everybody knows, there’s no secret. He’s pretty much all about himself and what he wants to do and what barriers are in front of him to achieve his goal. He’s not the first politician to be like that. He’s quite loud about it. You know, one thing I’ll say, he would take questions from MSNBC and CNN and, yeah, he would always take questions. I mean, that guy was not afraid. 

HAYES: That was part of how we learned that he actually is crazy. I mean, look at the things that he was arguing in the context of the election. That was crazy. You look at the stuff he’s talking about now, he wants to suspend the constitution. I’m sorry. That is to use your phrase, effing crazy. Why not say that he’s crazy? 

SUNUNU: Yeah. Well, I did.

HAYES:  But now, after touting yourself as authentic and saying what you mean, you’re walking it back. 

SUNUNU: Oh, no, I’m not walking anything back. It was hilarious. It was absolutely hilarious. I would never say someone’s crazy, like in a serious way. I try to stay positive, man. I really do. And I’ll poke jabs at people and they poke jabs at me and I’ll make jokes and all that sort of thing. And obviously every good joke has some truth behind it. But, you know what’s amazing about, I mean, there’s a lot of stories that came outta that Gridiron night, but what was really amazing is for days after everyone was talking about it and that, that I made this joke and all the significant political talking heads of the Republican Party were dead silent. They were all just watching. What’s going to happen? What is Trump going to say? You know what Trump said to me about that? Nothing. I talked to him a few months ago. I talked to him in September. I was trying to get him to endorse a candidate running for the US Senate in New Hampshire. We had a great conversation. It was great. What he thinks about it, I don’t know, but I’ll tell you, the guy does have a sense of humor. I mean, he’s not completely humorless. Maybe with the media he is and all that because it’s a real fight with him. I don’t know exactly what he thinks of the whole thing, but it was, it was a funny joke.

HAYES: I know you love hypotheticals. I know you love hypotheticals about Trump.

SUNUNU: As an engineer. I do not like hypotheticals. I like to go on the record. 

HAYES: But it would be great to test this if we could. Maybe it wouldn’t be great to test this if we could. But, he runs. I mean, do you think he’s a front runner right now in 2024?

SUNUNU: Well, top two. It’s him and DeSantis. And, then there’s just everybody else. But no, it’s the two guys running that are clearly running for president. 

HAYES: If Trump’s the Republican nominee, do you support him? 

SUNUNU: If he’s the nominee? Yeah, I would, I fully plan on supporting the Republican nominee. He’s not gonna be the nominee though. I mean, that is a real hypothetical. 

HAYES: Walk me through how you get there if you’ve been as critical, if you’ve joked and half joked that he’s crazy.

SUNUNU: Well, look at the alternative. Do I agree with how he says things and all this kind of stuff and, and whatever? Look at, we’re going down a path of, of like, not theoretical socialism, but the Democrats have been absolutely brilliant about how they’ve, I’ll go to that next generation, the Gen Zs, whatever you want to call it. They aren’t advertising. Republicans are so bad because we advertise and that’s not how you do it. Democrats have been influencing, and we’re talking left wing, progressive socialist stuff. We used to make jokes about socialism. I mean, can you imagine, that guy is like a socialist. And if you even said that to someone like Obama, he would be like, ‘That’s crazy. You know, we don’t want socialism.’ And now it’s mainstream conversation and they’ve done a brilliant job of getting us. That is my fear. I’m scared of where we are today from a government standpoint. I’m very proud of our country.

I think we have lived in the greatest country in the world with all this opportunity, but that is without a doubt going to erode. You can’t be 31 trillion in debt. You can’t have a mindset of bigger government all the time, and the government is here to solve your problems and all of that. That’s why I work so hard on the next generation. 400, 500 kids came into the State House once and there were these volunteers. And I said, ‘Let’s just have a honest conversation.’ I introduce myself and I said, ‘Can you guys explain to me how you’re kind of the first you know, young up and coming generation that I’ve ever seen in American history that isn’t saying, fight the power, fight the man fight, fight the government. We’re independent. We know better than you old boomers.’ You’re actually saying, ‘No, give us more taxes, more government.’ That’s our, that’s our answer. I said, ‘Can you explain that to me? I’d love to know, what are you thinking? Why do you want more government?’ And the dead silence in the room. And then this young girl on the back goes, ‘That’s a good point.’ And, I think the problem is we’re living here, at 30,000 feet with headlines, with emotion, as opposed to allowing ourselves and being an example as kind of adults and parents and leaders in our community. Forcing that third and fourth level of discussion about, wait, what are we really talking about here? What are the repercussions of what you’re talking about? I mean, just look at those polls when you poll young people, what do you think of communism? Right? And what is it? Like 25% of young people say communism is probably a pretty good model. Oh my God. I mean, can we look at Russia today?

SUNUNU: Deeply skeptical of capitalism and free markets. And folks like AOC can raise millions of dollars on this nonsense. And the most shocking part is we actually have a real world example of communism. Whether it’s in Venezuela or whether you’re seeing what’s happening with Russia, this dictatorship style or what’s happening in China. It’s right there in front of us. How bad these systems are, how oppressive they are to the individual. How they strip you of your rights. 

HAYES: Yeah. There’s an historical answer. Now we know. We know. I know you gotta run.

SUNUNU: I could do this all day, this is awesome. Want to get in some rum and cokes? In about twenty minutes I’ll really open up. 

HAYES: We have some scotch on the floor here.

SUNUNU: I just started drinking scotch, by the way. Well, scotch or whiskey. It was never my thing. 

HAYES: And you like it now? Is that just an age thing?

SUNUNU:  I do. 

HAYES: I have a theory about scotch. I’ve debated it. Jonah’s a big scotch drinker. David French drinks scotch. I think nobody actually likes scotch. I think it’s a thing because it tastes so terrible. I mean, the people who drink scotch obviously will come at me.

SUNUNU: I will tell you, I was right with you a year ago. I’m like a rum and Coke guy. Just give me kind of a sweet rum and Coke, great, whatever. Gin and tonic. Okay, fine. But regular scotch, I would never touch it. But I tasted really good scotch and I gave myself two or three of them and I started going, I get it now. I can’t tell the difference and I don’t care about all that stuff. What is a 50 year in a 12 year or whatever? McClellan, I don’t even know. But I get it. It was pretty good. I like sipping on it. It was warm. 

HAYES: I mean, we have some. We literally have some here. Oh, it’s Irish whiskey.

SUNUNU: You know what else? I drank it slowly. And I didn’t mind drinking it slowly. I’m not so into it that I figured out whether, do I like it on the rocks? Do I like it neat? I don’t know. I’m not a very big drinker at all, by the way, at all. But, I just started this thing. But I started with good stuff and that kind of got me hooked. 

HAYES: So next time, next time we do this, we’ll do it in New Hampshire and  we can each bring a drink of choice and then we’ll have this. 

SUNUNU: So what’s your anti-d drink of choice? Iff you don’t mind me, what did you likely throw up on the first time you got drunk and therefore you can never touch again?

HAYES: So I don’t have one of those. I honestly don’t have one of those. I’m not, I don’t drink hard liquor really. I drank some bourbon in college and I still don’t mind bourbon. It’s like three times a year. You a beer guy? Maybe? I grew up in Milwaukee. I was definitely a beer guy. But I can’t, this is an old guy thing. And probably way too much, too much information to include. It’s a podcast. I can’t do it. My body just doesn’t like beer anymore. And it’s painful because I love  a good beer as much as the next guy. No, my thing is Spanish wine. I lived in Spain for a year. In Madrid.

SUNUNU: My wife lived in Cordoba. Beautiful, beautiful area. She grew up in a Spanish speaking town, so she speaks very fluent Spanish. 

HAYES: I grew up in a Spanish speaking town, and I do not speak fluent Spanish. 

SUNUNU: I lived in Cali, you know, I went to San Francisco for three years. We had never lived anywhere else. I was about to get married. My wife and I moved to San Francisco just to see what it was like. I mean, we spent all our money on rent and food. And you could do that before we had kids, but I tried to get into the whole Sonoma, Napa thing, not my jam.

HAYES: I would like to live out there for that reason.

SUNUNU: You’d go out and you’d get guys, and you’d be doing these tastings and you’d have these insanely wealthy people that you didn’t know that had just bought like a thousand dollars bottles of wine and wanted to share it with you. You know, we were like 20 somethings and, I would be drinking this wine going, this could be two buck chuck. And I couldn’t tell the difference. I don’t, it’s all the same to me. 

HAYES: I felt bad. I’ve become a little bit of a snob. I hate to admit that, but having that good wine, when you smell the glass. I can taste the differences and I know the grapes. 

Let’s end on New Hampshire. Let’s end on, on first in the nation. Really interesting stuff happening on the democratic side. Yeah. Right now, national Democrats don’t want New Hampshire to go first. New Hampshire Democrats really want New Hampshire to go first, but interestingly, neither of the Democratic senators from New Hampshire are really doing much 

SUNUNU: They haven’t done anything since they took off. So are you expecting them just to wake up? 

HAYES: But I mean, it’s a 51-49 Senate. I mean, they could, they could make some of President Biden’s priorities a challenge if they said, ‘Hey, we want you in New Hampshire.’

SUNUNU: Look, there are two Democratic senators sitting there. They have all the leverage in the world to say this ain’t gonna happen. And they’re not, they’re not using it. And I’ve never, they’re like terrible used car salesmen, they don’t know how to make a pitch. What has happened is this decision was going to be made to strip New Hampshire, the first in the nation primary, back in August. And then they delayed it because they thought House might lose on it. Who knows what would’ve happened. So then they said, ‘We’re gonna make the decision in  November. They delayed. December. Delayed. January, they delayed. Now they’re saying, ‘We have till June.’ They asked me, the governor, the Republican governor, to send them a letter confirming that I would change my state law to conform with the National Democrat party’s demands. And I, ever so politely, told them to go screw . So, this is their crisis, though. They’re realizing the arguments we’ve are quite valid. The fact that you have candidate Joe Biden saying, ‘I’m gonna take it from New Hampshire and bring it to South Carolina.’ Let’s talk about South Carolina for a second. The voter turnout in South Carolina is 16%. New Hampshire sets records with our voter turnout. In 2020, they didn’t even have a primary for Donald Trump. When you’re the incumbent, they traditionally just anoint the elite. They don’t have to have a primary. Joe Biden has taken the first in the nation primary from New Hampshire to move it to a state that will not even hold a first in the nation primary. Why? It’s just personal political payback to his buddies that resurrected, you know.

HAYES: I mean, that was where he was reborn, right? What did he get? 8% in New Hampshire? 

SUNUNU: He got on a plane at four o’clock in the afternoon on election day and flew out of there. But he had earned that disastrous result because he wouldn’t answer questions, he wouldn’t be personal. He wouldn’t look people in the eye. And they tried to protect him too much. And we don’t, it doesn’t fly. South Carolina there, it’s more about the political elites, and he was able to be successful there. So he’s just rewarding them. Now nationally, the Democrat National Committee is realizing, wait a minute, this goes, goes, quote unquote to South Carolina. What’s gonna happen? You think no one’s challenging Joe Biden? Of course they are. There’s no way some of these progressives are gonna stay out of this race. I’ve said this before, but I think it’s a pretty good line. You know, I always say, ‘What does the left wing elite of Washington, DC say about Joe Biden behind his back? Exactly what they said to his face on the primary stage. That he was an old, out touch white guy that didn’t represent the future of the Democrat Party.’ You think they’re gonna let that guy sit there for six more years and run this? No way. They’re not gonna stand for it. New Hampshire’s the opportunity. Biden says he’s taking it to South Carolina. Believe you, me. Candidates on the Democrat side are coming to New Hampshire, because we’re going first, whether they like it or not. Our law says we are. The Republicans are going first to New Hampshire, so all these Democrat candidates are likely gonna go You know, the first or second place person comes out of New Hampshire in the Democrat party. They have all this momentum, they have all the media, they have all the attention, Biden’s on his heels. And you could potentially have progressive candidates run right by Joe Biden because he was so insistent on skipping New Hampshire. Point is this. It’s gonna be a great show. It’s gonna be a lot of drama on the Democrat side.

HAYES:  And what about the Republican side? 

SUNUNU: It’s gonna be, look, we crushed it last time in 2020. Both on the Democrat and Republican side. Iowa screwed up. Remember that whole debacle in Iowa? They were still trying to figure out who was winning. New Hampshire was up and the whole country was holding its breath,Going, ‘Wait, is this whole primary process, is it all screwed up? Can we trust this thing?’ To our state’s credit, we worked really hard and we nailed it. Every vote was counted. We got a winner that night. The whole nine yards. A lot of integrity in the system. We moved forward and the whole country took a big sigh of relief that, oh, okay, we can do this. Right? Not every system is screwed up. And so I think we’ve earned it. If you can get our voter turnout, if you can get our metrics of, of  you know, accessibility to the candidates. If you can get our metrics where it doesn’t matter how much you’re spending in advertising, you gotta meet the citizens at their level and on their issues, that’s the great first filter that everyone in America wants to see. They claim that South Carolina is more diverse than New Hampshire. What does diversity matter if only 16% of your population actually votes? 

HAYES: Don’t you think more people will show up and vote if it’s really the first? 

SUNUNU: No, because the liberal, because the elites still pick the winners. And by the way, again, in Joe Biden’s case, they’re just going to anoint him because he’s the incumbent. They’re not even gonna hold a primary. Because they just won’t. You will have other candidates come outta New Hampshire. If they have a head of steam and then they do the South Carolina vote and they let those other candidates on that ballot, they’ll likely beat Joe Biden in a state that he thought he was the anointed winner of. So they’re gonna make sure Biden gets his win. And they’re gonna go to the next state, wherever that is. So there’s a lot of drama there. They didn’t think it out. They’re trying to delay it all, but, we’re gonna go first. And regardless of what the National Democrat says. 

HAYES: On the Republican side, there was a poll out, University of New Hampshire poll out this week, had Ron DeSantis at 42. Trump at 30. You were at four. Liz Cheney was at four. Larry Hogan was at four. Is Desantis the front runner? How important is it for you if you decide to do this, to win your own state?

SUNUNU: Oh, if I decide to do this, if I don’t win my state, I’m done. Look, people say that, ‘Oh, if Sununu runs, he’ll have an advantage in New Hampshire.’ Actually just the opposite. 

HAYES: The expectations would suggest you have to win.

SUNUNU: I have to win or I’m done. And by the way, even if I win, they’ll be like, ‘Oh, he didn’t win by enough. Doesn’t matter. He didn’t win by enough. Doesn’t matter. He only won by 12 points. He should have won by 80. So, no, there’s actually a huge disadvantage to that, frankly. But the same goes for Nikki Haley and Tim Scott in South Carolina, another early state, or Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump, Rubio Scott, whoever else decides to run in Florida, right? So it’s gonna be, those early states are going to kind of filter everybody out of this race. Now, DeSantis and Trump are really the only two people running, so obviously they should do best in all the polls. I was shocked that I was even in a poll. That’s kind of cool. I mean, people know me as governor. They know I emphasize a lot, my first attention is always on New Hampshire, of course, as governor. We’ll see. There’s still a year. That’s the other thing. People are like, ‘Oh, are you gonna get in the race? You’ve gotta decide now.’ 

HAYES: But debates are like, July, August. 

SUNUNU: Maybe there’ll be some candidates in the race by then, but I don’t think everyone will be in the race by then. So how they determine who stands on that stage will be interesting. Remember, these folks have all been running for president for two years and they’re not announced candidates. When you announce as a candidate, all the rules change. And not for the better in terms of these big fundraisers. DeSantis is raising hundreds of millions of dollars, as is Trump. Well, Trump is a candidate now, but DeSantis as a non-candidate is raising a lot of money in a 501C4, whatever they do. There’s just a long way to go. A lot more politics to be played here. 

HAYES: Well, governor, thanks for playing some with. Happy to have you. 

SUNUNU: Did I earn a spot back? 

HAYES: Next time we’ll be in New Hampshire and maybe we’ll do it over a glass of scotch and a glass of Spanish wine.

SUNUNU: Thanks so much.

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