Here’s How the GOP Can Move Beyond Trumpism, Following Chris Sununu

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu did what a lot of Republicans privately claim they wanted to do—he confronted Donald Trumpcall him “crazy”.

Sununu added, “I don’t think he’s crazy enough that you can put him in a mental institution. But I think if he’s in there, he won’t get out! “

Sununu had a lot of laughs for his vulgar and humorous downing of Trump at the Gridiron Dinner, a centuries-old tradition where journalists and politicians fight. But the governor is not only open to mocking his party leader—She blew it off its hinges at a very popular public gathering.

Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland said he had not heard a Republican drop so many bombs since the Nixon administration. He also praised Sununu as the vanguard of a new Republican that dares to speak the truth, then criticized him for taking credit for federal spending in his state, which Democrats passed and condemned. Washington politicians because they were free to spend. The crowd of media and political pundits, as evidenced by their enthusiastic response, seemed to sense something significant had changed as this fresh face drew attention. and said that the emperor has no clothes.

“I don’t know a Republican who was surprised by what Sununu said. He says what they’re thinking,” Republican pollster and communications curator Frank Luntz told The Daily Beast. “They won’t say that [in public], but behind his back, they thought he was a child. They are laughing at him. That’s what made it [Sununu’s comments] meaningful.”

When the mockery begins, the fear disappears. “Trump is not the same person he was a year ago,” Luntz said. “Even many Republicans are tired of going back and redoing the 2020 election. Everyone else has moved on and in Washington everyone believes he lost the election. ”

“If you are asking me is Governor Sununu a player? It’s correct.”

Sununu is running for his fourth two-year gubernatorial term, after resisting a strong push by Mitch McConnell to run for the US Senate. “I love getting things done,” Sununu explained at the time, saying he would be “a lion in a cage” in the Senate where they talk and debate and nothing gets done. “That’s not the world I live in, and I think the citizens deserve more than that.”

In a recorded message to Gridiron, regretting his absence knowing he would be “on the menu,” President Biden thanked Sununu for “helping Democrats keep the Senate.” . The flamboyant 47-year-old is the son of former Governor John H. Sununu (who was also President George H.W. Bush’s chief of staff) and the brother of former Senator John E. Sununu, who was lost. elected in the 2008 re-election. Democratic Party member Jeanne Shaheen. Elder Sununu is a grumpy, grumpy politician known for his toughness rather than charm and charisma. In contrast, says Luntz, Chris “is probably the loveliest Sununu.”

Praising Sununu’s “wonderful pedigree,” Luntz added, “He learned from his father how to be tough and from his brother, how to present matters clearly.”

“He’s a Republican at heart, something we haven’t seen in a while, which makes him very real and real,” said pollster Ed Goeas. of the Republican Party said. “He comes from a political family but he appears to be very sincere.” Goeas is working on a book with Celinda Lake – Democratic pollster titled A question of respect…Bringing us together in a deeply divided nation.

“One of the points I make in the book, we need a leader who approaches politics respectfully,” he said. When asked if Sununu would go after Trump the way he did, Goeas replied: “It depends on how much you poke the bear and how hard you try to move the conversation.”

Sununu has a safe shopper in New Hampshire to challenge Trump and help form a post-Trump party, if he’s serious about it.

“We have to start somewhere,” says Goeas. “I see a change in the number of countries. After the 2020 election, 60% of Republicans believe anything Trump says. There’s been about a 20% shift from that place to a safer haven if you will—they don’t particularly like the way he says things, but they like his policies. Now the majority of Republicans are saying it. ”

Goeas and Lake are bipartisan directors of Opinion Poll at Georgetown University, and in their forthcoming book, Goeas tells The Daily Beast, “I’m behind the vote,” the 60-vote rule paralyzed the Senate. He supported the Founder’s concept of the Senate as a cool plate for the passions of the House, “but not to stop things.”

The extent of Trump’s hold on voters will become clearer as we see how valuable his endorsed candidates are in the primaries and then the general election. elected. Michigan Republican Representative Fred Upton last week decided not to run for re-election. He is the fourth person to resign from among 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in the wake of the January 6 uprising effort.

Upton will face a Trump-approved candidate in a newly drawn area. He has served with excellence, working across the aisle since 1987. “Even the best stories have a final chapter,” he said as he announced his retirement. “This is it for me.”

During his speech at the Gridiron, Sununu repeatedly cited his state’s slogan, “Live free or die,” as proof that his voters put on their politicians’ shoulders. . Asked if Sununu was pointing the way forward or committing suicide for political reasons, Republican pollster Whit Ayres told The Daily Beast: “Neither. It would be a different situation if he ran for the Senate, but he got through that, so he’s much more liberal because he doesn’t face a Republican primary. “.

The lesson, Ayres said, is clear: “Other Republicans have learned that popular governors who don’t have to fear Republican primaries can say whatever they want.”

Also, we’ll have to wait until the preliminary results are out to accurately measure Trump’s turnout among voters. “His hold is not what it used to be,” emphasized Ayres, quote NBC News/The Wall Street Journal Poll question asked Republicans if they were closer to Trump or to the GOP.

In January 2019, the Trump/GOP number was 51/38 and increased to 54/35. By January 2022, it is 36/56. It rebounded slightly in a March 2022 poll to 40/53. “So we know based on that question his holdings are sliding. And not having access to Twitter is also a big deal. A lot will be decided whether we get mainstream candidates in the primaries,” added Ayres.

Republicans may be laughing at Trump behind his back, as Luntz points out, but mocking the former president could backfire. When President Barack Obama mocked Trump at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2011, the debacle was so painful that some believe it boosted his 2016 presidential bid. real estate tycoon.

This time, we’ll find out when votes were counted in the nearly 130 races where Trump endorsed a candidate, test his strength in the Republican Party to choose governors and senators and even state legislators — and test the theories of those who say the best days are behind him, and the tenacity of those who mock him.

Governor Sununu could be the one to show Republicans the way through Trumpland.

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