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Jul 12, 2016 11:11 AM

Ex-Gov. Sununu tells NH1 News 'I'm voting for Donald' but focusing on governor's race

NH1 News Political Director

HAMPTON FALLS – Former Gov. John Sununu says he’s made it clear “I’m voting for Donald” Trump, but New Hampshire’s most well-known and influential Republican adds “my focus is going to be on the gubernatorial race.”

And in a sit down interview with NH1 News, Sununu added that former state Sen. Jim Rubens, who’s primary challenging Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, “is becoming a laughingstock.”

Sununu’s son and former U.S. Sen. John E. Sununu is among those backing a push at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland to unbind delegates pledged to Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Another former senator from the Granite State who backed Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the primaries, Gordon Humphrey, is also spearheading the movement to try and strip the nomination from Trump at the convention.

Asked about that push, Sununu said “I think what they’re trying to do is let the delegates have a chance to express themselves one way or the other. I actually think in the long run a Trump nomination will be all the stronger if they go through that process and allow the convention to come together and I think they’ll eventually come together unanimously around the nominee, so I think a lot of folks spend too much time worry about the process. I think it’s all going to come clear and be done quite effectively in Cleveland. Trump will be the nominee and the Republicans will get ready to take on Hillary Clinton.”

Sununu, who stayed neutral in the GOP primaries but clashed at times with Trump, even calling him a “loser,” added “I’ve said I’m going to vote for the nominee. Donald Trump is the nominee. I will vote for him.”

Asked if the top of the ticket will be a drag on Republican candidates down ballot in New Hampshire, Sununu told NH1 News “I had some concerns I still have concerns in the sense that I’m waiting for the campaign to put itself together. I think they will. I think Mr. Comey gave them a great big gift last week with his comments on Mrs. Clinton.”

“I suspect the Trump campaign will get itself together and focus on differentiating themselves from Mrs. Clinton, not only on issues but on character,” he added.

Sununu, who isn’t attending the convention in Cleveland, said he’s been in contact with Trump’s campaign and “I told them I would make it clear that I’m voting for Donald and I have done that and I will keep repeating that as long as they ask me to that I am going to vote for Donald Trump in the election.”

But Sununu added that “I think they know that my focus is going to be on the gubernatorial race for Chris Sununu.”

That’s another of his sons. The three-term Executive Council member is running this year for the job his father once held in the Corner Office.

The proud father said “I think Chris has done a great job in putting a ground game together. I think he started early. He went around the state early. Christopher Sununu is a well-known name in the state, compared to some of the other candidates and I think he’s been taking good advantage of his record on the Executive Council in order to build a strong argument as to why the state needs him as governor.”

Asked by NH1 News if the recent high-profile vote Chris Sununu took in favor of resuming state funding for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, which was opposed by many conservatives, would hurt him in the GOP gubernatorial primary, the elder Sununu said “I think that he had to deal with a very difficult issue. He deal with in a very constructive way and I still think the biggest issue in New Hampshire is still the issue of small government and lower taxes and he clearly has the best record of anybody on those two issues.”

The former governor’s been absent from the gubernatorial campaign trail so far. Sununu told NH1 News “I think he’s (Chris) probably saving me for the general. He’s doing a good job on the primary and frankly I’ve been trying to get as much time on the golf course this summer.”

Turning to New Hampshire’s U.S. Senate race, Sununu was asked about Rubens’ primary challenge against Ayotte. This is Rubens second bid for the U.S. Senate. He lost a multi-candidate primary battle to former U.S. Scott Brown in 2014.

“I think Jim is becoming a laughing stock, constantly running as a gadfly in these elections, and I think he wore out his welcome last cycle,” Sununu said.

Rubens responded in a statement to NH1 News, saying “the establishment tactic of ignoring me has failed. Their resort to infantile name calling shows I'm winning.”

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