One GOP governor warns Trump’s ballot removals only boost his ‘victim card’ posture

Dec 31, 2023, 7:04 PM

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu  waits for the start of a meeting between U.S. President Joe Bi...

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu waits for the start of a meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and governors visiting from states around the country in the East Room of the White House on Feb. 10, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Anna Moneymaker, Getty Images)

(Anna Moneymaker, Getty Images)

(CNN) — New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu on Sunday warned that former President Donald Trump’s removal from the 2024 primary ballots in Maine and Colorado only serves to aid his “victim card” posture in the presidential race.

“This would only … boost his opportunity to play that victim card down the road as we hit the primaries. It’s not helpful at all, and I just don’t think it’s right,” Sununu told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”

Trump’s legal team is expected to appeal the two decisions, based on the 14th Amendment, to remove him from primary ballots in Colorado and Maine on Tuesday, according to a source familiar with the plans.

Trump would appeal the Colorado ruling to the US Supreme Court and the Maine secretary of state’s decision in state court.

The 14th Amendment, which was ratified after the Civil War, says US officials who take an oath to uphold the Constitution are disqualified from holding future office if they “engaged in insurrection” or have “given aid or comfort” to insurrectionists.

However, the Constitution does not spell out how to enforce the ban, and the vague phrasing has led to questions about whether it even applies to the presidency.

Sununu, who has endorsed former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in the Republican primary, said Sunday he wants Trump on the ballot in “all 50 states” so that “Nikki Haley can beat him in all 50 states.”

Asked about Haley’s failure to mention slavery as a cause of the Civil War at a New Hampshire town hall last week and subsequent effort to clean up her answer, Sununu acknowledged it was a mistake.

“She cleared it up quickly, right? Obviously, if something needs to be cleared up a little bit, you wish you had said it a little differently the first time, but it was quickly cleared up,” he said. “It’s an absolute nonissue.”

Sununu added the recent attacks from Haley’s GOP primary rival Chris Christie only underscore her rising stature in the race.

“Chris Christie’s a friend, but his race is at an absolute dead end. He’s going to say anything he can,” Sununu said.

“I just think he’s going to make the right decision in the end. He wants to make sure this party comes together. He – I think all these candidates know it’s always kind of a long shot. And at the end of the day the only person moving is Nikki Haley. Chris Christie isn’t going to make up 30 points in the next three weeks, right?”

A Christie campaign spokesperson did not specifically address Sununu’s suggestion that the campaign has no path forward, but said in a statement to CNN: “The events of the last few days fully solidifies the point that Christie has been making for six months. That the truth matters and if you can’t answer the easy questions you can’t fix the big problems.”

Haley, Sununu said, is the candidate who “can make up five or 10 points and kind of give Trump that defeat that no one thought was possible in the next few weeks. And I think that’s very likely to happen. So, again, I think the voters are going to come Nikki’s way. I think, ultimately, hopefully, Chris comes Nikki’s way. But that’s really a decision for Chris to make.”

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One GOP governor warns Trump’s ballot removals only boost his ‘victim card’ posture