GOP Gov. Chris Sununu to Jen Psaki: Best argument against Trump is he’s ‘a loser’
- GOP Gov. Chris Sununu "very interested" in running for president
- A plea for a return to Republican values, from the 'Live Free or Die' state
AMANPOUR: How black players transformed basketball and American society. Author Theresa Runstedtler speaks to Michel Martin about her new book on
the generation that saved the NBA.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in New York.
It is a busy day in the nation's capital as South Korea's President Yoon comes to town while tensions do mountain Asia. President Biden is probably
eager to smooth out tensions between them after a Pentagon leak expose the U.S. eavesdropped even on its allies. The leaders are also set to announce
more U.S. support for Seoul amid growing nuclear threats from North Korea.
Earlier today, the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart in a much-awaited phone call. President Zelenskyy says their
conversation was meaningful. But will it make Beijing exert its influence on Xi Jinping's friend for life, President Putin?
With so many challenges and questions, a seat at Americas top table may seem like a poisoned chalice. But more and more are jumping into the 2024
And my first guest tonight is tipped to join the growing crowd. New Hampshire's Republican governor, Chris Sununu. When he joined me from
Manchester, he carved out a very different path from the one GOP contenders like Donald Trump are carving out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Governor Sununu, welcome to the program.
GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): Well, thank you very much and pleasure to be here.
AMANPOUR: So, Governor, look, it seems to be presidential candidacy in the ring season. We have seen the president himself has called again for voters
to give him a second term. I want to know from you, are you about to throw your hat in the ring? And the famous Kennedy question, fellow New
Englander, why do you want to be president?
SUNUNU: Well, two very good questions. And so, obviously, I am very interested. We'll make a decision this summer. Obviously, you know, I think
a lot of folks are looking to a governor, to someone who understands how systems work. They really want things to get done. I mean, at the end of
the day, Republican or Democrat, Washington just hasn't gotten a whole lot done in terms of really providing opportunities and I think folks see, you
know, governors as a potential.
So, we've been traveling the country. I am a Republican. I want to make my party bigger. I want independents to get on board. I want the younger
generation to kind of be -- that have been disenfranchised to get back on the team, so to say. I think there's -- I am not one of these people that
yells at folks and I don't think anyone gets inspired by being yelled at. I try to be very positive and optimistic because I woke up in the United
States of America, like let's start with a sense of gratitude.
So, I think when it comes to, you know, why -- I'm not going to compare myself to Kennedy, as you did or anything, but in terms of New England, I
will say this, New England governors know how systems work. We talk -- we don't just talk about more money to mental health, we talk about what are
the doors of access for family? What's happening in our schools? We don't just talk about more money to drug and treatment and overdose in the --
with the opioid crisis, we talk about, how do we blow up and rebuild the system to be more modern, to have wraparound services, really attach
themselves to the communities?
We are very community driven here. And I just think America is looking for folks that, again, know how those systems work. It's not about headlines,
it's not about political stunts, it's not about saying one thing and getting nothing done, it's not about the money in politics, because we all
know that that's a problem. It's really about just brass tacks, getting back to the basics, putting people first, not government, it's not about
me. I'm the governor and I will tell you it ain't about me. I'm not here to solve your problems. We are here to create opportunity, and then, let the
folks do what they're going to do best in walk that.
AMANPOUR: All right.
SUNUNU: That's -- I am from the live free or die state, right? That's what it's all about.
AMANPOUR: Indeed. But you also sound very sensible. And sensible is not really the term one might use for the strongest wing of your party right
now, the Trump wing. So, what I want to ask you is a serious question about how you are a four-time governor in a purple state, neither, you know, very
Republican or Democrat, it could go either way. That is a big deal because it means you have to work by consensus on issues that matter to people.
Last election, you won by 15 points. How -- can you translate that into a primary wing when there is so much flames throwing by the other candidates,
notably, Donald Trump?
SUNUNU: Sure, sure, sure. So, look, everybody wants a fighter, right? You got to be able to fight, you got to be able to stand on your shoes and
fight hard, but we got to remind folks, more important than being a fighter is being a winner, right? There is no use in having a fighter if they are
always losing the fights, if they can't get stuff done.
You know, a lot of us backed Former President Trump '16 and in '20. I was 100 percent behind him because he said he was going to drain the swamp, he
didn't do it. He said he was going to fix health care, he didn't do it. He said he was going to secure the border, he didn't do it. He said he was
going to be fiscally responsible, lord knows he had -- was anything but with another $8 trillion added to debt. That is real money.
So, when -- those are all Republican values, right, limited government, local control, that's really what Republicans are built on and that's what
we can all rally around. So, yes, I understand there's a lot of headlines and flame throwing on one side, especially with the very extreme part of
our base, not dissimilar to the Democrats, right, they have their extreme side out of their base, more socialism and all that sort of thing, but most
of us are in here, right, Republican or Democrat. Most of us are in here and we just want to get stuff done.
And I think as the debates transpire, as the arguments get made, I think there's going to be a path and opportunity for folks like myself or others
to step forward and drive forward on results driven leadership. And you got to know how to do it, not just in the private sector, but you have to know
how to work within the public sphere, how to actually lead Congress, lead the Senate, give a little, to get a lot, how to negotiate. If you can't
negotiate, nothing is ever going to get done, and people want results.
AMANPOUR: That is the key.
SUNUNU: But I think there's a real path here.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And that's the crux, to negotiate, to work across the aisle, to get things done for people. As perhaps in your -- you know, your
father's generation, you know, he worked for more moderate Republicans before he was governor. He worked in the White House. And we know, we have
seen how that works for people.
So, does it concern you that the latest poll, NPR, shows that 71 percent of Republicans said they think Trump should be president again? That drops on
the eight points to 63 percent even if Trump is convicted of a crime. It is pretty dire, isn't it, for your vision of politics for the people in
getting things done?
SUNUNU: No, no. I am very optimistic. So, I think what those polls are saying are people see the indictment that has come down, even of one
watching -- if you watch CNN or MSNBC, even those legal analyst, very liberal legal analysts say, this is a very weak case. They know it's very
So, when you see those polls, they are saying, do you support President -- Former President Trump? And people are saying yes because they support him
because they feel like he's gone -- the people are going after him in a very political way. So, they're going to show that support.
Now, does that translate to an actual vote in the ballot box -- on the ballot nine months from now? No, no, no, not necessarily at all. We haven't
even had the debate yet. We haven't even had a chance to narrow down the candidates, get behind one or two others.
So, there is still so much more politics to be played out. I think a lot of folks are showing support for the former president because they feel like
he's, you know, the left wing, if you will, the liberal elite, whatever you want to call it is going after him. He is playing the victim card, right?
This guy was supposed to be a fighter, but he's playing the victim card. And he's building a lot of sympathy from it. But I don't necessarily think
it translates into some overwhelming win in terms of the ballot box.
Republicans want winners and folks to get stuff done. And what -- not just winners in the nomination, that's easy, winners in November, November of
'24. The last time I checked, you can't govern if you don't win. So, unless we have someone that can cross the finish line in November, I think that
argument will be loud and clear from a variety of different sources as we hit these primaries, and I think voters will go in that ballot box and say,
look, they might have been picking on that guy, but I need to win. And so, they're going to galvanize behind some other candidate.
AMANPOUR: Yes. You remind us of what happened not just in 2020 but in 2022, the midterms, the Trumped picked candidates, by and large, we're not
winners, as you've just said. So, perhaps the Republicans --
SUNUNU: Losers. Yes, losers.
AMANPOUR: -- will be able to, you know, rally around that very important fact. But here's what I also want to ask you because now, Governor
DeSantis, he's thrown his hat in the ring, pretty much and, you know, he's taking on Donald Trump. He said a few things, which I will ask you about.
But particularly, I want to ask you because we are in the middle of this, I don't know, crisis of disinformation, political polarization, you know,
telling all sorts of populist and other lies. But this -- just the idea that it seems that some Republicans have been governing, according to
populist television anchors, like Tucker Carlson, suggesting that migrants be sent up to your part of the country, you know, in the summer. And sure
enough, that's what DeSantis did. And it was kind of weird.
And I just wonder whether you think that's still going to be something that you all have to pay attention to, populist television, and other talk show
host on the conservative side?
SUNUNU: Just like Joe Biden. I mean, you have to call it fair on both sides here. I think we do have to be careful of that populist mentality,
but at the same time, you have Joe Biden that wants to, you know, just pay everybody's loan off, they want to keep the free rent program going, they
want to just keep spending money, creating money, without understanding that it creates inflation and hurts the lowest income families
We're going to just whistle past the graveyard when it comes to this massive homeless crisis in places like California or the massive violence
issues that you are seeing in Chicago and other major cities. I mean, these are the places that Democrats should do very well, should be supporting
their community and are failing them. Why? Because the populist voices are out there.
So, I think it is a problem on both sides. I think both sides have to deal with it. And the bulk of America wants winners, they want folks that just
get stuff done. I guess the primary process is hard, you know. And there's too much money in politics. We all get that. I think there should be
massive campaign finance reform.
I was at an event actually with Speaker Pelosi yesterday and she said it, I agreed with her 100 percent, all this dark money going in there that,
effectively, allows incumbents to solidify themselves, right? You add gerrymandering on to that, that is a major problem. The genie is kind of
out of the bottle there. I don't know how you kind of get it back in. But the gerrymandering, the big money, these are real problems that allow folks
to go -- and almost push folks deeper into the left, deeper to the right corner, force them to take more extreme positions because they are more
afraid of being challenged by their own party than they are by the other side. So, it's really -- that's really at the crux of it.
Then you had social media and the fact that everyone wants -- just wants to sell advertising and all that sort of thing, that's not going away.
SUNUNU: So, my message to everybody is, we need to learn to be more truthful, more honest, more accountable within that dynamic, right? Fox
found some accountability and they took action. CNN, other stations, other social media outlets, they have to all be accountable to themselves one way
Our words matter, whether it's how we treat people, whether it's what we say and not, you know, putting out the truth or whatever it might be. So,
we're in a transitional period here to be sure, but there will be a new normal where everybody has a voice. So, hopefully, accountability gets
AMANPOUR: All right. Well, I think you are laying out your case very clearly for a pragmatic way to get things done for the people. So, let's
talk about our international audience, which is very concerned about where America's foreign policy will continue to go.
So, we talked about DeSantis, he clearly tripped up and didn't understand the stakes in Ukraine where he called Russia's invasion just a territorial
dispute. Now, his own party and many others, you know, obviously pushed back. He had to push back and retract.
You have said in your "Washington Post" column, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is not a territorial dispute, as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis
described it this month. Russia is engaged in a war against an innocent people, and it must be condemned.
Can you elaborate on how you would continue, what I presume you believe in, a fight to support the rules of the international road by defending
SUNUNU: Absolutely. So, look, America's strength as a world power, and it is a world power, has to be predicated on clarity. Our allies know we are
going to be with them. Our enemies know that we have resolve and we'll stand. We are not going to dip our toe in and dip our toe out, that is not
what we are about. And we are founded and we are based in the fundamentals of freedom and supporting those that would lay their life on the line for
freedom, building allies, building coalitions, fighting for that and supporting it.
And I think supporting -- not just supporting Ukraine, but winning that war, helping Ukraine win that war is absolutely vital. And we can do it. We
don't need to put troops on the ground or anything like that, but we can support them and do that. And that sends a message across the world.
Look, America is the most humanitarian generous country in the world, we -- through our strength, through our economic success, we help our allies, we
support everybody else, but you need to be very clear in that. When your kind of be wishy-washy because you are putting your finger into the wind
and testing the political winds, that is not acceptable on the international stage. World peace comes through America's strength, and I
believe that very strongly. I think Reagan was a big believer in that, and I support that very much.
It doesn't mean that we can just wave a magic wand and be everyone's police department and solve everyone's problem, but with our strength and clarity
of message it brings kind of -- a calming, if you will, because again, your allies know you are going to be there, your enemies know they better watch
AMANPOUR: Are you concerned by what some people are concerned about, for instance, the former Republican treasury secretary, Hank Paulson, recently
told the F.T., this is about China, I strongly believe that President Biden would like to stabilize the China relationship, but both Republicans and
Democrats in Congress have staked out a very strong line which complicates things for Biden.
In addition to that, the retired admiral, William McRaven, who we all know very well, former head of U.S. special ops, the leader of the raid to
capture bin Laden said this on our program yesterday about China. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADMIRAL WILLIAM MCRAVEN, AUTHOR, RETIRED U.S. NAVY FOUR-STAR ADMIRAL: We need to find common ground with China and we need to find common ground on
trade, we need to find it on climate, on space, something, so that when things do get tense, we have kind of avenues of conversation.
I was talking to a senior official in the White House not too long ago who said they have more conversations with Russia than they do with China.
Well, that's not good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Speaking to our Walter Isaacson. So, do you believe that, that there actually needs to be a more pragmatic way of dealing with this
massive competitor than something that might accidentally push the U.S. into war?
SUNUNU: I think he was exactly right. You need to establish relations. You need to have communication. Even Reagan could pick up the phone at any
moment and call Gorbachev on any issue. But this administration, the Biden administration, doesn't even talk to China. They don't even go over.
Make no mistake, China is no friend to the United States right now. They don't believe in capitalism or our western ideals, but we are going to have
to be partners in some realm economically and for other reasons for quite some time. So, let's make sure that we have this relationship, make sure
they know who is in charge, and that is the United States of America. You can't assert your authority over the partnership if you're not even willing
to pick up the phone and have the conversation.
So, this administration, I think the secretary of state has to take full responsibility, has been a complete disaster when it comes to maintaining
our strength over the Pacific, maintaining our position with that relationship, whether it is technology, whether it's batteries, whether
it's materials and supplies and -- we are just going to have to be partners with them and rely on them for a lot of our supply chain, at least in the
near term. So, you better have a relationship with them.
And like I said, they don't need to be our buddy.
SUNUNU: But you better make sure they know who is in charge. And again, just pick up the phone. I mean, how do you know where they are in anything
and what is happening? Now, they are looking to establish their own reserve currency. That is a real threat to America's economy because they feel
disrespected, they feel like we won't even have a conversation with them
So, again, I just -- I think that America's clarity of message, clarity of where we stand with all world leaders is really important in terms of
making sure that there is peace and there is opportunity for Americans in our economy.
AMANPOUR: All right. Well, Governor Sununu, thank you very much, indeed. And when did you say you are throwing your hat into the ring? When will
that announcement come?
SUNUNU: Maybe by dinner, maybe. We'll see how the day goes. Now, look, I'm not 100 percent sure. I'm going to say probably early summer. I think
everyone probably needs to figure this thing out by early summer, to get on the debate stage, get the ballot access, all the logistics that have to
happen and really forced the discussion. Because it is going to take six or seven months to really start sorting this thing out.
Hopefully, everyone gets on the debate stage. Trump says he won't. But I think, ultimately, look, you can't say you're a fighter if you're afraid to
have a conversation on a debate stage, right? We don't want him to win bout on us. But we will see what ultimately happens. It'll be a rollercoaster
for the next six to nine months. It will be a fun one.
AMANPOUR: All right. Well, we will be watching and we will hope to invite you back again. Thank you very much, Governor.
SUNUNU: Thank you. It's been an honor.
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