Sununu Says Trump Would Be ‘Wimping Out’ by Skipping GOP Debates

  • Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire said Donald Trump would be “wimping out” by skipping debates.
  • Trump recently suggested he might not attend some or all of the GOP presidential debates.
  • Trump notably skipped the final debate before the 2016 Iowa caucuses.

Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire blasted Donald Trump on Wednesday after the former president strongly suggested he might skip GOP presidential primary debates.

“I mean, we’re going to have debates, but Trump says he ain’t showing up,” Sununu told the conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. “I don’t know what that’s all about.” He added: “He’s kind of wimping out. He says he’s a fighter, but now he doesn’t want to actually be, you know, have discussions and debate.”

Sununu also said he’s “hoping” to be on the debate stage. Hewitt asked whether that meant the Republican governor was running, to which Sununu responded that he’d “make an announcement sometime in early summer.” Earlier in the conversation, Sununu had said that if he decided not to run for president, he would endorse someone else. As the leader of an early primary state, Sununu is being closely watched.

Trump, who notably skipped a GOP debate right before the 2016 Iowa caucuses, suggested on Tuesday that he might not appear at the forthcoming debates. In 2016, Trump later lost Iowa to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Given Trump’s status as the frontrunner by a large margin, the former president’s suggestion was widely noticed.

“I see that everybody is talking about the Republican Debates, but nobody got my approval, or the approval of the Trump Campaign, before announcing them,” Trump wrote on his social-media platform, Truth.

It’s not just primary debates. Trump pulled out of the second 2020 presidential debate after the commission in charge of scheduling them moved for it to be held virtually following Trump’s positive test for the coronavirus. He did participate in the final debate, but since then the Republican National Committee left the bipartisan commission that has scheduled the general election debates for decades.

The former president singled out the second debate, which is scheduled to be hosted at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. He said it was “amazing” that The Washington Post’s publisher, Fred Ryan, served as chairman of the library. Though Ryan does lead the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, which operates the museum that will host the debate, the library itself is operated by the National Archives and Records Administration, a federal agency of which Trump is very aware.

Trump has repeatedly clashed with the Post and its owner, former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Ryan served in the Reagan administration and was later one of the 40th president’s chiefs of staff after he left the White House.

A representative for Trump’s campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Correction: April 28, 2023 — An earlier version of this story, published on April 26, misspelled the name of the city set to host a coming Republican presidential primary debate. It’s Simi Valley, California, not Semi Valley.

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