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Transcript: New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu on “Face the Nation,” Nov. 6, 2022

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The following is a transcript of an interview with New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu that aired Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, on “Face the Nation.”


MARGARET BRENNAN: And we go now to New Fields, New Hampshire and that state’s Republican governor, Chris Sununu, who is up for re-election on Tuesday. Welcome back to the broadcast. Governor, our public polling that we’re looking at indicates that you’re likely to keep the governor’s seat after Tuesday. Back in 2021, you canceled your own inauguration due to security threats. You’ve personally experienced the threat of political violence. I’m wondering how concerned are you in this moment now? And will you hold an inauguration if you win again?

NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR CHRIS SUNUNU: Yeah. So a couple of things. Obviously, with- with Speaker Pelosi and what happened recently, I think that is kind of looking at- everyone’s kind of looking at what this political violence is, is on both sides. It’s everywhere. The heat is too high all across America. Good leadership brings that down. I’ll be holding my inauguration fully plan to do so. But again, we got to, as leaders, bring the temperature down. It’s okay to disagree, but at the end of the day, you got to be able to move forward. And we fully plan to do that here in New Hampshire.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. I want to come back to that topic in a moment. But first, inflation is top of mind. New England is facing its highest energy costs in more than 25 years. Could be a cold winter. Your largest utility in the region is asking the White House to prepare emergency measures to prevent a natural gas shortage this winter. What what’s the federal response been so far? And are you at the state level prepared for what could be a safety threat?

GOV. SUNUNU: Yeah, I’ll say the federal response so far has- has been very underwhelming. All the governors got on the phone recently, about a month ago with the secretary of energy and tried to talk about what those opportunities were in terms of increasing natural gas. New England is really at the end of the line for natural gas, right? All of our natural gas comes through Albany. And in previous years, if there was a high demand or a big cold snap, folks come home, they turn their heat on. The Marcellus Shale would increase production. But no one’s incentivized to do that. There’s no- no opportunity to do that right now. And I think that’s where a lot of the utilities and rightly so, are telling this administration. You’ve put policies in place. It’s having a very drastic effect on energy and fuel oil prices today and likely is just going to get worse. So we need to see something across New England. There’s nothing political about energy prices. Right. But when you have all the ability in the world to produce your own fuels and refuse to do it, obviously folks in New England are quite frustrated.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, there’s record production right now, as you know. But this is a very real problem. 

GOV. SUNUNU: Yes. And because of the Jones Act, because and because of the Jones Act, that is this antiquated 100 year old union driven policy that President Biden refuses to get rid of, we have very minimal opportunity to bring natural gas from even parts of our own country and land it right here in- in New England. So it’s not just New Hampshire, it’s Massachusetts, it’s Maine. It’s all of these states that are that are feeling record high prices because, again, we’ve shut down natural gas plants. We’ve disincentivized fossil fuels. It’s- look, we all want to transition into renewables. And of course, that’s a very smart thing to do, but it must be a transition. This administration went all or nothing. So that’s why you see, you-  it take- costs twice as much to fill your gas tank, your fuel oil, your energy prices. And in New England, when it gets cold, is going to be there’s going to be some real pain for all of us. And again, we’re just asking the administration to reverse some of these policies, in fact, incentivize more production and more natural gas through Albany, New York, to get us what we need.

MARGARET BRENNAN: President Biden, in one of his closing arguments, is framing a selection is protecting democracy against extreme Republicans. Listen.

*TAKE SOT* 

The extreme MAGA element of the Republican Party, which is a minority, that party, as I said earlier. But is this driving force, is trying to succeed where they failed in 2020. To suppress the right of voters and subvert the electoral system itself.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you agree that parts of your party are emboldening violence and posing a threat to democracy?

GOV. SUNUNU: Look, what is shocking to me about all of this is you have the Democrat Party, which is now using the president of the United States, not as leader of our country, but leader of their party as a political tool. Right before the election, to drive in, effectively tell half of America that they’re too extreme for America. It makes absolutely no sense and to say–

MARGARET BRENNAN: You think the MAGA element of the Republican party is half of America? Because I wouldn’t necessarily put you in that half.

GOV. SUNUNU: No. Well, definitely not. But again, to say that that extremism belongs in one party and it doesn’t appear in the Democrat Party is- is nonsensical. Nobody buys that–

MARGARET BRENNAN: You’re saying the party is all one now? 

GOV. SUNUNU: –because we see it on both sides. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Unified? That extreme MAGA is part of the Republican Party’s ideology? 

GOV. SUNUNU: No, no, absolutely not. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.

GOV. SUNUNU: Absolutely not. No. They’re in the absolute minority. But what I’m saying is extreme–

MARGARET BRENNAN: But it seemed like that’s what you’re implying–

GOV. SUNUNU: No, no, no, no, definitely not. Extremism is on both sides. And for the president, United States to come up and be more of a political tool as opposed to a uniter. Remember, he got elected because he said he was going to unite folks, not threaten them. He was going to bring everybody together and get stuff done and not polarize this country, which is exactly what has happened. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. 

GOV. SUNUNU: That was not the reality. Then Democrats wouldn’t be in for the rude awakening they’re going to come- that’s going to come Tuesday. But it is coming and not because of politics, because of what is happening in people’s homes, what’s happening at their kitchen tables, what’s happening with trying to balance a checkbook in. The president has to take a lot of responsibility for that. It’s easy to blame- just blame extremism. But most of us are not extreme.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. Well, President former President Donald Trump is expected to announce his candidacy for the presidency. CBS is reporting that that could be within a matter of days. What does that do to your party? Does anyone have a chance of actually beating him in a Republican primary?

GOV. SUNUNU: What does it do to our party? Nothing. Nothing. It’ll have no effect on anything. And I mean that quite sincerely. First off, announcing you’re going to run for office between an election and Christmas is a terrible idea. Because one thing I can say for America is we’re all going to be really happy one way or the other, that the election is over come Tuesday, and everyone’s going to want to take a breath and re-engage with their families and deal with some really serious issues. And then politics, you know, really gets back into the mix of things in early 23, whether the President Trump decides to run or not, it’s not going to make any difference in terms of the fact that you’re still going to see eight to maybe even a dozen other candidates jump in the race. He doesn’t keep anybody out of the race. Right. So it’s still going to be, I think, on both sides. I think- I don’t think President Biden is going to run again. I think on both sides of the aisle are going to have maybe a dozen individuals over the next 6 to 9 months come out and decide to run.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, and your name’s floated as one of them potentially. I know you’re not going to give me an answer to that question right now, but you did turn down the invitation to run for Senate. 

GOV. SUNUNU: Yeah. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has voiced some concern about candidate quality in this midterm election. You told the Washington Examiner that the Republican majority would just obstruct President Biden until 2024. You didn’t want to be a roadblock for two years. You’re setting pretty low expectations for what a Republican majority would actually mean. Is that what we should expect? Just nothing for two years, total gridlock? 

GOV. SUNUNU: No. Look, I think well, I think both sides, both sides of the aisle in Washington have set a horribly low expectation for Washington. I mean, think about it. They passed one way or another, they pass a bill, Republicans or Democrats or both. And we cheer it. It’s supposed to be this great, great success because they got something done. It is just an absolute gridlock mess there on both sides of the aisle. So as a governor, I can have so much more impact on what is happening on the ground level, redesigning systems, implementing better mental health services, implementing better opioid services, whatever it might be. And this is New Hampshire. And if you spend- anyone who spends more than 10 minutes in New Hampshire knows now not an easy place to leave. So I just want to get stuff done if I’m going to put my family through the difficulties of public service and all that comes with it, I’m sure as heck going to get something done. And you can do that far more effectively as a governor than you can as a senator or congressman. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Alright. 

GOV. SUNUNU: Now, leadership can change that. Leadership in Washington can absolutely change that on both sides of the aisle. And I think that’s what America is looking for.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Alright. Sounds like we’ll be talking to you again, Governor. Thank you for your time today.

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