Trump calls Sununu who urges he get involved in Senate race

·3 min read

Sep. 6—CONCORD — The political intrigue over former President Donald Trump's involvement in New Hampshire's federal elections grew Tuesday as an aide to Gov. Chris Sununu confirmed Trump had reached out to the governor about the U.S. Senate race.

Sununu spokesman Benjamin Vihstadt said Trump initiated the discussion.

"For the record, the governor did not call President Trump. President Trump called Governor Sununu, and the Senate race came up as part of a larger conservation. The governor encouraged the President to take a look at the Senate race," Vihstadt said in a statement.

The comment came after Liz Gabert, a conservative radio talk show host on WSMN in Nashua, had claimed earlier on Tuesday that Sununu called Trump to lobby on behalf of Senate President Chuck Morse's candidacy.

"We know this, and I'm going to go ahead and say this because I think that somebody like you might have shared this, but in fact that Governor Sununu, who is another swamp candidate, you know, establishment swamp candidate and is really not even a Republican in my opinion, but got to President Trump and asked for an endorsement of Morse, I believe," Gabert said during an interview with conservative businessman Steve Stern, the owner of a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, firm that makes patriotic flag shirts.

Stern told Gabert he had heard the same thing and prevailed on Trump allies and the former president to back retired Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc of Stratham or stay out of the race.

"And I called a lot of the president's key people and asked them, told them what I thought, and evidently the president agreed because he hasn't endorsed him," Stern said of Morse. "And he said he's going to stay neutral right now."

Trump likes to weigh in late

Last week Trump, who called Bolduc a "tough guy, strong guy," said the race was down to two hopefuls and he was "looking strongly" at whether to make an endorsement.

Many political analysts believed that if Sununu took sides, he would be with Morse, since the two come from Salem and Morse helped make many of Sununu's policy initiatives a reality.

Some had concluded Trump wasn't likely to choose between Morse or Bolduc, since the race is less than a week away.

In primary after primary during the 2022 election cycle, however, Trump has waited until just before the election to make a pick.

For example, Trump called into a campaign event and endorsed Massachusetts candidate for governor Geoff Diehl on the eve of the Tuesday primary in that state.

Sununu supported Chris Doughty, Diehl's primary foe, in that race.

Thad Riley of Brentwood, a GOP primary candidate, said he doubted Sununu could influence Trump.

"Chris Sununu has been against President Trump for years, and he's the one calling for an endorsement? As the only candidate in New Hampshire with legit connections to Trump's White House I'd be the most shocked if that worked," Riley said. "I've made a call today, too."

The final two debates in the Senate race could be decisive. They involve all five major candidates, including Lincoln businessman Vikram Mansharamani, bitcoin millionaire Bruce Fenton of Durham and former Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith.

The Union Leader, IHeart Radio and Claremont Eagle Times are co-sponsoring the first debate at New England College Wednesday night at 6.

The candidates will then debate on WMUR Thursday night at 8.

klandrigan@unionleader.com