Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu says he is not calling on his friend Chris Christie to drop out of the GOP presidential nomination race.
However, Sununu tells Fox News that Christie’s “numbers are falling” and argues that the former New Jersey governor has “hit his limit” as he runs a second time for the White House.
Additionally, he emphasized that Christie “has the chance to be the hero. To put Nikki [Haley] over the top. To deliver [former President Donald] Trump that loss, Nikki that win that the rest of the country’s looking for.”
Sununu, a popular Republican governor in the state that holds the first primary in the GOP presidential nominating calendar, endorsed Haley last month, delivering a blow to Christie, who is once again placing all his chips on a strong finish in New Hampshire.
Haley has surged in the polls in New Hampshire over the past month and is currently in second place, ahead of Christie. She has narrowed the gap with Trump, who remains the commanding front-runner for the GOP nomination as he makes his third straight White House run.
Christie and Sununu have long been friends, and are two of the most vocal Republican critics of Trump. However, on the campaign trail and in interviews since endorsing Haley, Sununu has argued that Christie does not have a path to winning the nomination.
“I know he’s disappointed that I didn’t get behind him, but at the end of the day, this is the path. Chris has kind of hit his limit … at around 13% of the vote. He speaks the truth on Trump, but that’s very different than whether it translates into votes for the nomination to become president of the United States,” Sununu told Fox News Digital on Tuesday night after introducing Haley at a town hall on the New Hampshire coast.
He emphasized that Christie is “not going to surge 30% in the next three weeks. That ain’t happening. He hasn’t put a ground game in any other state, and you can’t just use New Hampshire as a launching ground to nothing else.”
Christie told Fox News last month, after Sununu endorsed Haley, that “it’s not his [Sununu’s] job to tell anybody when to get out. He can support whomever he likes, but it’s not his job to tell anybody when it’s time to get out of the race. That’s an individual choice to make, and I’m not going anywhere, so let’s be really clear about that.”
When asked about those comments on Tuesday, Sununu said “I’m not telling Chris that he has to get out. Right. I’m not calling Chris Christie and saying ‘you absolutely have to get out.’”
“I think Chris is smart enough to see the writing on the wall. To know that he has a great opportunity here not just to get behind Nikki but to do something really important for the country and the party and start moving us forward. He has been, and I think has the opportunity to continue to be a very important voice in that,” Sununu added.
Ahead of the Haley town hall, the former South Carolina governor, who later served as ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration, said in a Fox News Digital interview that Sununu “knows this state very well. He knows what Granite Staters want. They trust him. They have a relationship with him. And so, whatever he says, I think people believe.”
When asked about Christie, Haley said “I think the reality is – you look at what Christie wanted. Christie didn’t want Trump to win. Our goal is to make sure that Trump doesn’t win and that we get our country strong and proud again and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Christie has repeatedly pushed back against suggestions that he should drop out of the race and back Haley in order to defeat Trump. He has emphasized that he is the only Trump rival in the race who is directly taking on the former president.
“Some people say I should drop out of this race. Really? I’m the only one saying Donald Trump is a liar,” Christie said while speaking directly to the camera in an ad running on TV and digital in New Hampshire, where independent voters and moderates have long played a crucial role in the state’s famed primary.
On Tuesday, as Sununu once again teamed up with Haley in New Hampshire ahead of the state’s Jan. 23 primary, Christie charged in a CNN interview that “since Chris started to work for Nikki Haley and become an employee of Nikki Haley, it’s not the same Chris Sununu anymore.”
“Chris Sununu was one of the most vocal Donald Trump critics in this country,” Christie added. “This is a guy who has said that Donald Trump is unfit. All things that his candidate is unwilling to say.”
Chirstie accused Sununu of abandoning “his principles to try to get himself some political favor inside of his own state.”
Sununu will continue to campaign with Haley at three events in New Hampshire on Wednesday.
He will also stump with Haley this weekend in Iowa, ahead of the state’s Jan. 15 caucuses, which lead off the GOP presidential nominating calendar.