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Governor of New Hampshire says DeSantis would defeat Trump in critical early primary state

By Sarah May
|
January 30, 2023

Despite a weekend campaign visit from former President Donald Trump, New Hampshire Republican Gov. Chris Sununu says that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis would, “without a doubt,” win that state's crucial early primary if it were held today, as the Daily Mail reports.

Sununu's comments came during an appearance on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday, in which the governor also discussed Trump's campaign prospects in the Granite State and the possibility of his own bid for the White House.

Sununu weighs in

Though DeSantis has yet to announce whether he intends to pursue the presidency in the next cycle, Sununu believes that his entry into the race is essentially a foregone conclusion.

“Obviously, DeSantis and Trump are the two candidates, right, whether he's declared or not,” the governor explained.

Speaking to his Florida counterpart's chances in at least one critical primary contest, the one taking place in his own state, Sununu said, “Ron DeSantis is looking to run for president, which is fine. And he would probably win New Hampshire right now, without a doubt.”

“I think other candidates will look to get in this spring or into the summer,” Sununu added, acknowledging that he was among those contemplating a run.

Governor talks Trump

As The Hill noted, Sununu seemed far rather less bullish on Trump's likely fortunes in his state, saying, “He could [win], I don't think he will.”

Though Trump appeared in New Hampshire over the weekend in something of an unofficial second launch of his campaign, the state's governor described the event itself as “mundane.”

“The response we received was that he read his teleprompter, he stuck to the talking points,” Sununu stated.

With regard to Trump's presentation this time around, the governor added, “He's not really bringing that fire, that energy, I think that a lot of folks saw it in '16. I think that in many ways it was a little disappointing to some folks.”

Poll: DeSantis ahead

Lending support to Sununu's hypothesis about DeSantis' chances against Trump in his state is the most recent iteration of the Granite State Poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, as Florida Politics reports.

That survey, conducted between Jan. 19 and Jan. 23, put DeSantis ahead of Trump by a full 12 points, taking 42% of respondents' support.

Also telling was the fact that only 46% of poll participants said they wanted Trump to run in 2024, with 65% of self-identified Republicans expressing their hope that DeSantis would enter the race.

Though he has not indicated when he might declare his own candidacy for the nation's top job, despite his own popularity within New Hampshire, Sununu himself drew a paltry 4% support in the poll.

Battle heats up

While it is true that DeSantis has remained tight-lipped about his plans for the 2024 presidential stakes, speculation that he will indeed throw his hat in the ring shows no signs of abating, and as such, Trump already appears to be firing preemptive shots across the bow.

Earlier this month, as The Hill noted separately, Trump was asked by podcast host David Brody about a possible DeSantis candidacy, and he did not hold back about his feelings on the subject.

“I got him elected, pure and simple,” Trump declared, referencing DeSantis' first run for governor. “So, now I hear he might want to run against me, so we'll handle that the way I handle things,” he added cryptically.

Adding fuel to the fire that Trump is prepared to start throwing elbows when it comes to DeSantis were comments the former president made on the campaign trail this weekend, accusing the Florida governor of “trying to rewrite history” with regard to his state's response to COVID-19 and branding him “disloyal” for even contemplating a rival 2024 bid for the Oval Office.