By D. Allan Kerr
I’m not just saying this as a hometown boy, and I’m reluctant to give a helpful tip to a Republican leadership which has been pretty pathetic over the past few years, but the party still has a shot at redemption and its name might be Chris Sununu.
New Hampshire’s Republican governor is said to be considering a 2024 White House run in what looks to be emerging as a crowded field.
He was just re-elected to his fourth term in a state with an all-Democratic congressional delegation and has a lot of experience and success he can promote on the campaign trail.
But that’s not what would make him a genuine threat to take the GOP nomination.
If he decides to go for it, Sununu has three highly marketable qualities – he’s wicked smahht, as we say in parts of New England; he has an affable and approachable demeanor; and he’s funny as hell.
Sununu has an engineering degree from MIT but comes across more as an easygoing jock than a bookish academic. He has an uncanny ability to explain complex issues in a way accessible to your average person on the street.
His father, John H. Sununu, a three-term Granite State governor in the ‘80s, was also considered an intelligent guy (PhD from MIT in mechanical engineering), but tended to come across as arrogant and condescending. I don’t recall anyone marveling at the old man’s sense of humor.
As for the current Governor Sununu, his best weapon is a playful wit I’m absolutely certain would be Donald Trump’s kryptonite on the debate stage. Sununu delivered one of the best quips I’ve heard from a Republican about Trump, about a year ago.
“I don’t think he’s so crazy that you could put him in a mental institution,” he said of Trump at a Gridiron Club dinner last April, “but I think if he were in one, he ain’t getting out!”
He’s entirely at ease bantering on camera with the likes of HBO talk show host Bill Maher, who’s about as witty as it gets these days. When Maher recently pressed Sununu about his possible presidential campaign, the governor joked, “I’m going to see what percentage of the potential candidates get indicted. If it’s over 25 percent, we’ll see!”
I know certain friends will want to throw rocks at my head for saying nice things about Sununu, but the truth is he’s one of the few remaining Republican stars with genuine likability.
He brings to his campaigns a “happy warrior” persona that carries well in general elections.
Ronald Reagan back in the ‘80s was one of the more optimistic politicians of his era and enjoyed immense popularity. And Joe Biden’s upbeat style has brought him success as well.
Meanwhile, those considered the current faces of the GOP all seem bitter, pissy, whiny and petty, which doesn’t typically inspire the masses. They just look small.
There was a time I thought Ron DeSantis had a legitimate shot at taking the next GOP nomination. Now it appears folks are starting to realize the mad little troll of Tallahassee is essentially a one-woke pony. Like, if the term “woke” were eliminated from his vocabulary, he wouldn’t have a campaign at all.
Or maybe they finally noticed his uncanny resemblance to Shrek’s diminutive Lord Farquaad (which may be why he resents Disney so much) and realized he’s not that presidential after all.
Nikki Haley had a brilliant future about four years ago, but can’t decide if she wants to take on Trump or continue to kiss his ring. She needs to pick a lane and hit the gas, one way or the other.
Mike Pompeo, thankfully, finally realized no one wants him to be president and bowed out before he really got started. I can’t imagine what made him think he had a shot in the first place.
The same can be said about Mike Pence. If you poured plain yogurt into a coat and tie, you would have Mike Pence.
I actually like Chris Christie, but it seems like his moment has passed. And no one else mentioned as considering a run is a serious threat to the title.
At just 48 years old, Sununu brings youthful vigor to the stage. He plays rugby for fun. In his younger days he hiked the Appalachian Trail for five months, from Maine to Georgia.
And of course, as the former CEO of Waterville Valley ski resort, he’s well-seasoned on the slopes.
In terms of policy, the governor is what can be described as a common-sense conservative, meaning an adherent to the wing’s sacred core principles but not inclined to indulge the wackier aspects pursued by the party’s nutjobs.
He’s one of the few Republicans who publicly call out the blatant hypocrisy of DeSantis’ war on Disney, which in saner times would be blasphemous.
Conservatism calls for government to get out of the way of capitalism, not engage in a mud wrestling match when you disagree with a company’s policies.
And Sununu is one of the few in the GOP not named Cheney with the audacity to slam Trump directly, even as the former game show host lurches from one disaster to another.
“Donald Trump is positioning himself to be a four-time loser in 2024,” Sununu told “Meet the Press” not too long ago. And when Trump indicated recently he might skip primary debates, the governor accused him of “wimping out.”
If nothing else, Sununu would freshen up what looks like a stale upcoming primary season, and likely provide some entertainment along the way.
D. Allan Kerr would welcome any Republican leader at this point who isn’t a raving nut or a craven sycophant.
Follow D. Allan Kerr on Twitter @Sloth_Blog, Facebook and seacoastonline.com
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