Opinion | If the Republicans narrow the field, we'll beat Trump (2023)




Supported by


Guest Rehearsal

Opinion | If the Republicans narrow the field, we'll beat Trump (1)

ByChristopher T. Sununu

Mr. Sununu is the Governor of New Hampshire.

This week, Republican presidential primary candidates will have the opportunity to present their position before a national audience – with or without Donald Trump on the debate stage. To win, they must break free of the Mr. Trump drama, step out of his shadow, pounce, pounce, and present their case. Then they need to see if they can catch fire this fall – and if they don't, they need to step aside, because sifting through the candidate field is the best opportunity to stop Trump. Too much is at stake for us to have any desired candidacies. While the other Republican candidates are running to save America, Trump is running to save himself.

Candidates on the debate stage should not be afraid to attack Donald Trump. While it is true that Mr. Trump has an iron grip onmore than30% of the electorate, the other 60% or more, are open to moving forward with a new candidate. Mr. Trump's shortcomings hardly need reciting. Tim Scott, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy – candidates with compelling histories, records and polls – must show voters that they are willing to stand up to Trump, show a spark, not just defend him by default. Chris Christie, who has done an excellent job exposing Trump's weaknesses, should broaden his message and show voters that he is more than an anti-Trump candidate.

If Trump is the Republican presidential nominee in 2024, Republicans will lose at the polls. According to a recent Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, nearly two-thirds of Americans say they are unlikely to support Trump in 2024 — not even Jimmy Carter had such dismal re-election numbers. Each candidate with an (R) next to their name, from the school board to the state representative, will be responsible for the electoral albatross at the top of the ticket. Rather than taking offense and offering an alternative to Joe Biden's failed leadership, Republicans will remain preoccupied with responding to Trump's constant complaints and lies by alienating all of America's independent suburban voters. And Trump, ever the narcissist, will spend the entire campaign complaining about his legal problems and robbing his supporters of their retirement savings to pay their lawyers.

Donald Trump is beatable and starts in Iowa and New Hampshire. Ignore the national polls that show him leading – they are meaningless. It's a reflection of the national debate, the identification of the name and who is most remembered - not where the momentum is going.

The best indicator of Trump's strength is to look at where voters are paying attention: in states where candidates are campaigning, television ads are running, and there is a wide range of media attention on each candidate.

In Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to vote in the 2024 Republican primaries, Trump is struggling. In both Iowa and New Hampshire, he is consistently in the 40 percent range. His support floor may be high, but his ceiling is low.

In New Hampshire, more than half of Republican primary voters — the most ardent voters in our party — want someone not named Trump. While he regularly scores above 50 percent nationally, and often even closer to 60 percent, he hasn't hit more than 50 percent in New Hampshire in the last five months,according to Real Clear Politics.

Having won four New Hampshire state elections and garnered more votes in 2020 than any candidate in history (surpassing Mr. Trumplossby 20 percentage points that year), I know that in New Hampshire, you don't just win in politics: you win face to face, person to person. Voters need to look you in the eye and approve of you as a person before they can approve of you as a candidate. Comments prepared behind a podium do not work.

Candidates who won the New Hampshire primary, best illustrated by former Senator John McCain, have become ubiquitous in my state. You must listen first and speak later. Talking to voters in New Hampshire doesn't work.

That's why Trump must face a smaller field. Only then does your road to victory narrow. GOP leaders – governors, senators, donors and media influencers – have an obligation to help narrow the field.

At a minimum, any candidate who does not appear in the first two debates must withdraw.

Anyone who is in the low single digits in the polls leading up to Christmas must recognize that their efforts have fallen short.

Once the Iowa results come in, it's critical that the field narrows down, ahead of the New Hampshire primary, to the top three or four.

Candidates who have been running for years and who have seen little movement in polls, especially in early states, are particularly in focus. This fall, if your numbers don't improve, difficult conversations will have to take place between donors and their candidates. Media influencers and leading voices should amplify the Republican message that the longer these candidates stay in the running, the more they will be helping Joe Biden — and Kamala Harris — get another four years.

As long as the field shrinks in Iowa and New Hampshire, Trump loses. It will always have its die-hard base, but most are available. Candidates who seize the opportunity and present a clear contrast to the former president will win the votes.

Candidates cannot continue to let the former president dominate the media as he has for the past six months. They need to be more aggressive in seizing the opportunity to strengthen their national profiles. There have been positive moves by some candidates, but more needs to be done.

It must be said that candidates who remain in this race when they do not have a viable path should be called. They are auditioning for a Trump presidency cabinet that will simply never happen. And even if a Trump administration magically materialized, no such public humiliation would be worth the sacrifice.

As governor of the nation's first primary state, I will do everything I can to help narrow the field. I intend to support and campaign for the best alternative to Mr. Trump. From now on, anyone is available.

For 20 consecutive years, the winner of the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary has secured the party's nomination. Once Iowa and New Hampshire voters are presented with a clear alternative to Trump, his path forward becomes obscured and the future of the Republican Party begins to take shape. The rest of the country needs to see that not only is the Emperor naked, but that the Republican Party is able to redirect the conversation where needed, on a candidate dedicated to saving America.

Christopher T. Sununu is the Governor of New Hampshire.

The Times is committed to publishinga diversity of lettersto the editor. We would like to know what you think about this or any of our articles. here are sometips. And here is our email:letter@nytimes.com.

Follow The New York Times opinion section onFacebook,Twitter (@NYTopinion)eInstagram.


  • 2432




Why is Trump not at Republican debate? ›

But when it came to arguably the most consequential choice facing the party, virtually everyone on the debate stage in Milwaukee on Wednesday night lined up behind Trump, who declined to participate, citing his commanding lead.

Where is Republican debate? ›

The first Republican primary debate of the 2024 presidential race will be held tonight from 9 to 11 p.m. Eastern. The debate, taking place in Milwaukee, is sanctioned by the Republican National Committee and hosted by Fox News. Here are some of the ways you can watch it.

Who was in the first Republican debate? ›

Instead, he faded into the crowd. Largely ignored for two hours by his lower-polling rivals on Wednesday, the Florida governor watched as the first debate of the GOP primary turned into a pile on Vivek Ramaswamy, the 38-year-old biotech entrepreneur rising in polls. Mike Pence tangled with Ramaswamy.

Who are the GOP debate candidates? ›

Who are the candidates in the first GOP primary debate?
  • Mike Pence. PBS NewsHour. 3.72M subscribers. ...
  • Ron DeSantis. PBS NewsHour. 3.72M subscribers. ...
  • Nikki Haley. PBS NewsHour. 3.72M subscribers. ...
  • Tim Scott. PBS NewsHour. 3.72M subscribers. ...
  • Chris Christie. PBS NewsHour. ...
  • Vivek Ramaswamy. PBS NewsHour. ...
  • Doug Burgum. PBS NewsHour.
1 day ago

Where is the first Republican debate? ›

Eight candidates have qualified for the Fox News showdown after meeting criteria set by the Republican National Committee. The debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, begins at 21:00 EDT (01:00 GMT).

How to stream 2023 Republican debate? ›

Cable-cutters can access Fox News Channel through a variety of live TV streamers such as DirecTV, Sling TV and Hulu + Live TV. DirecTV, which offers a 3-day free trial, is the best choice for those looking for to stream the Republican debate online free.

Is there a Republican Liberal? ›

The Liberal Republican Party vanished immediately after the election, though a handful of its leaders continued to serve in Congress. Former party members scattered into the Democratic and Republican parties.

Are Republicans or Democrats on the right? ›

As a result, ideological overlap between the two parties has diminished: Today, 92% of Republicans are to the right of the median Democrat, and 94% of Democrats are to the left of the median Republican.

Is there a Democratic Republican? ›

The Republican Party, retroactively called the Democratic-Republican Party (a term coined by historians and political scientists), and also referred to as the Jeffersonian Republican Party among other names, was an American political party founded by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in the early 1790s that championed ...


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Kieth Sipes

Last Updated: 31/07/2023

Views: 5886

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (67 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kieth Sipes

Birthday: 2001-04-14

Address: Suite 492 62479 Champlin Loop, South Catrice, MS 57271

Phone: +9663362133320

Job: District Sales Analyst

Hobby: Digital arts, Dance, Ghost hunting, Worldbuilding, Kayaking, Table tennis, 3D printing

Introduction: My name is Kieth Sipes, I am a zany, rich, courageous, powerful, faithful, jolly, excited person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.