ORLANDO, Fla.—Just hours before Donald Trump is expected to announce his third presidential bid, New Hampshire Republican governor Chris Sununu said "nobody's gonna care" whether the former president enters the race.
Speaking from Orlando at a Republican Governors Association panel on "the Future of the GOP," Sununu dismissed Trump's impending announcement, arguing that the 2024 election is too far away to speculate on potential presidential candidates.
"The political atmosphere today will be 180 degrees different six months from now, 180 degrees six months after that, and then we'll get to June of '24. … We are so far away from all of it," Sununu said. "Whatever announcements may or may not be happening tonight, nobody's gonna care. We have so far to go. … There's no job we can't handle, but we are a long way off from '24."
While Sununu did not mention Trump by name, his reference was obvious. That's because just 180 miles southeast of Orlando, the former president is reportedly preparing to launch his 2024 presidential campaign at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla. Trump on Thursday sent a media invitation touting a "special announcement" at the club, which is set to begin at 9 p.m. Tuesday evening.
Sununu's comment comes as some Republican officials publicly argue that Trump should not lead the party going forward. During a November 10 Fox News interview, Virginia lieutenant governor Winsome Sears (R.) said she could not support the former president in 2024, citing poor midterm performances from some of Trump's hand-picked candidates. "The voters have spoken and they have said that they want a different leader," Sears said. Wyoming senator Cynthia Lummis (R.), meanwhile, declined to endorse Trump during a Monday interview that also saw her declare Florida governor Ron DeSantis "the current leader of the Republican Party." Even Trump's choice for Senate in New Hampshire, Republican Don Bolduc, said he "would have lost by even more" if he took the former president's advice to campaign on "election denial."
Beyond Sununu, none of the panel's additional three members jumped to back Trump as the Republican Party's next presidential nominee after moderator Pete Ricketts—who will serve as Nebraska's governor until he is term-limited out of office in January—asked his fellow Republican executives for their 2024 predictions. South Dakota governor Kristi Noem (R.) said she doesn't think "anybody can predict it right now," while Tennessee governor Bill Lee (R.) said he "trust[s] the American people" to make the right decision. Iowa governor Kim Reynolds (R.) avoided the 2024 election altogether, instead predicting that Hawkeye State Republicans will pass school choice legislation in the next two years.
Sununu was not the only prominent Republican governor to take a dig at Trump on Tuesday. Asked at a Fort Walton Beach press conference about Trump's impending announcement, DeSantis pointed to his landslide reelection win while noting that "some of the other" Republicans did not perform as well.
"At the end of the day, I would just tell people to go check out the scoreboard from last Tuesday night," DeSantis said. "The fact of the matter is, it was the greatest Republican victory in the history of the state of Florida."