Sununu calls Libertarian Party mocking of McCain 'horribly insulting'

·3 min read

Aug. 30—CONCORD — Gov. Chris Sununu denounced the New Hampshire Libertarian party for a "horribly insulting" tweet that mocked two-time New Hampshire presidential primary winner and U.S. Sen. John McCain on the anniversary of his death.

"That should pretty much be the end of the Libertarian Party in New Hampshire, and I totally mean that," Sununu said during an appearance Sunday with Dana Bash on CNN's "State of the Union" program.

"Horribly insulting. That is not leadership. That is not what people want to vote for."

A former Libertarian congressman was among those who criticized the Granite State Libertarian Party last week after it posted a picture of a grieving Meghan McCain at her father's casket under the headline, "Happy Holidays."

Meghan McCain called the tweet "hideous."

Since Sununu's remarks, officials with the New Hampshire Libertarian Party have ratcheted up their rhetoric.

"Oh, we're just getting started, @GovChrisSununu," the LPHN posted soon after Sununu's CNN appearance.

They also defended an Aug. 26 tweet, which has since been deleted, that said, "6 million dollar minimum wage or you're anti-semitic."

"Our tweet with a Holocaust reference was intended to mock liberals who call people Nazis for not supporting minimum wage, not deny or minimize a tragedy," the LPNH said in a statement Sunday.

"Now that that's clear, will all the groups who condemned us join our demand to stop funding groups of actual Nazis in Ukraine?"

The Ron Paul Institute, founded by the three-time presidential candidate and former congressman, came to the LPNH's defense.

"Why's everyone so mad at @LPNH? They called out a stone cold killer. Isn't that what libertarianism is about? Pushing back? We should RESPECT those who lustily violate non-aggression principle every day? Who actually love killing people? Like...ten million? That's how we win?" the group posted Monday.

'Like McHale's Navy'

The state Libertarian leadership clearly likes having the image of a wing of the party willing to push the edge.

"Here at @LPNH, we are a bunch of extremists. We're like the McHale's Navy of @LPNational," the LPNH tweeted, referring to the 1960s TV comedy.

"We say crazy stuff that we don't always expect unanimous support for."

They pointed out that 45 Libertarian or Free Staters running as Republicans have won State House seats in the past.

"The reason @GovChrisSununu went to CNN to attack the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire is because he's frustrated by how many former Libertarians have taken power in his own party," the LPNH said in a statement.

Party officials asked that their followers "respect" those who disagree with their controversial strategy, such as former Michigan Congressman Justin Amash.

Sununu was asked about the Libertarian tweets after calling on President Joe Biden to apologize for referring to MAGA supporters of ex-President Donald Trump as "semi-fascists."

Sununu said Biden called "half of America semi-fascist because he's trying to stir up controversy — he's trying to stir up this anti-Republican sentiment right before the election — it's horribly inappropriate, it's insulting, and people should be insulted by it and he should apologize."

The branding of Americans is not helpful, the governor said.

"We can say that all the Democrats are communists, they're all ultra-socialist communists that just want to bring down our free capitalistic market. That's not true of Democrats either," Sununu said.

"When we allow ourselves just to talk in these extremes, we polarize the country, we bring people further apart."

Later in the interview, Sununu put the Libertarian Party and Biden in the same boat.

"The New Hampshire Libertarian Party and the president can both join together and apologize for their insensitive comments," Sununu said.

On Monday, U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan told WMUR that she understood Biden's frustration, but the comments painted his critics with "too broad a brush."

klandrigan@unionleader.com