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Transcript: Leadership During Crisis with New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu

MS. ALEMANY: Good morning, and welcome to Washington Post Live. I’m Jackie Alemany, congressional correspondent and author of the Early 202, The Post’s early morning newsletter. My guest today is New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu. Welcome back to Washington Post Live, Governor Sununu.

GOV. SUNUNU: Oh, well, thank you very much. Great to be here. I love the--I love your cupcake back there.

MS. ALEMANY: Oh, thank you.

GOV. SUNUNU: It's a first.

MS. ALEMANY: My cupcake is very famous. So, I appreciate it.

Let's talk about the latest surge of COVID that's hit your state. What percentage of new cases is due to the omicron variant?

GOV. SUNUNU: Virtually all of them at this point. The omicron variant has really taken over the majority of cases. About two weeks ago, we really dealt with a massive delta surge in the winter as we hit November and December. It was one of the reasons why New England was one of the last to see the omicron surge, is it really hit the South in late December and early January, slowly kind of made its way up, and is now our predominant now. Well over 90 percent of our cases are omicron, which is important because how you deal with the virus is a little bit different. You still want the testing and vaccines and boosters. But the big thing I think a lot of people don't realize is the traditional monoclonal antibodies for delta do not work with Omicron. So, you need different antivirals that are available, extremely limited because it's so new. Every state is kind of begging the federal government for as many as they can possibly get. But how you treat folks that are dealing with omicron is a little bit different. And obviously, you know, the level of sickness, the way the contagion is moving through the population, that is a little different as well, which change some--can sometimes change your--change your strategy in terms of managing it from a community level, as well as within your healthcare system.

MS. ALEMANY: Right. And you have voiced concern about the hospitals in New Hampshire being maxed out on resources. Where do things stand right now with the current hospitalization rate?

GOV. SUNUNU: So, our hospital numbers really peaked out in late December. They're still very high without a doubt. But we have anywhere between 375 to 420 people in a hospital on any given day, on average, and it's been bouncing at that number. It's a very, very high number. I think in our previous surge, the highest it ever got was, you know, just over 200, something like that. So, we're really double anything we had ever seen before. The issue, if I can just take folks back a little bit, remember, managing COVID as a whole is all about ensuring you have access to your hospital system, all about ensuring that the system does not get overwhelmed. So that's why we focus so much on hospitalizations and fatalities.

The other big issue is I think a lot of folks don't understand a hospital bed for COVID is not equal to a hospital bed for anything else. And what I mean by that is, when you're in the ICU for COVID, on average, four, five, six weeks sometimes for individuals, you can get a quadruple bypass surgery and be out of the hospital in four days, right? So, this is very different in that there's almost nothing like it in terms of the amount of time an individual kind of takes up that bed. So, what I mean really is when you have one person in a COVID hospital bed, it's really equal to five or six or seven people for other issues. And that's why hospitalization for COVID is such an important metric to watch, because it overwhelms the system more than any other type of illness you could get.

MS. ALEMANY: And, Governor, I am wondering, are you vaccinated and boosted? And do you recommend that your constituents who have yet to do so get vaccinated?

GOV. SUNUNU: Absolutely, absolutely, vaccinated, boosted. Every time I do it, I'm very public about it. In fact, I waited for my booster for about 10 extra days, because we did what we call the booster blitz, where we did sites all across the state, tried to do a lot of marketing and push around it, and made sure the cameras--you know, that's one area where I'm not too shy. I say, look, put the camera right on me. I want people to know this is safe. This is what you have to do. And without a doubt, given the number of people I interact with every single day, I can only imagine what it has saved me from, because we see what happens specifically with the unvaccinated and the unboosted population. The--still the vast majority of folks in our hospitals are unvaccinated and unboosted. So, you have to really be up to date with that. We encourage it. I’m as pro-vaccine as they come.

I don't believe the federal government needs to be mandating it. I think that's an overreach of government. It is a health care decision, of course. Once you start down the path of government forcing it, you know, I'm not there. I don't think any government should be. Even though I want everyone to be boosted and vaccinated, you have to also understand the limits of government kind of intervention there. So, we put a lot of marketing, a lot of messaging on it. And as governor, I think you have to kind of lead by example, to be sure.

MS. ALEMANY: Why do you think, then, some of your Republican counterparts, people like Governor Ron DeSantis, are having such a hard time saying that they are vaccinated and recommending other people to do so?

GOV. SUNUNU: You know, I don't know. I don't want to answer for them in terms of, you know, the dynamics of why they make decisions, why they, you know, publish or talk about certain things. I will say this. I--you know, one thing that I got--I think a lot of us got frustrated with was specifically in the media, and I’m not saying just The Washington Post by any means--but all across the media, it was Republicans don't want the vaccine and Democrats do. Look, there are thousands of Democrats in the state of New Hampshire that don't want the vaccine for various reasons. I talk specifically about two examples. One was a young nurse that I ran into. One was a young schoolteacher. They were young women. And for whatever reason, they were concerned about the aspect of the vaccine and the booster with pregnancy. And so we talked to them and said, no, there's no data to support that. It's very safe. You can do it. And you know, you walk them through it, you encourage them to talk to their doctor, right? I don't think anyone should just be taking the governor's word. Talk to your medical provider. Talk to your doctor about the safety of the vaccine. So, you know, both were staunch liberal Democrats, of course.

But it's not about one party or another or anything like that. I think that creates a lot of division. I think the best we can do--and I all I'm trying to do is lead by example here in my own state, whether it's leaders in your community or from the hospitals--talk to your doctor, get the information, and hopefully you're making the right decision.

Omicron is still very serious. I think there's also a lot of complacency. There was complacency back in the fall, I think from the bulk of America. But now we hear more and more studies that omicron isn't as serious, and that's true. And that's actually a very good, good thing. But it's also three to four times more virulent, which means it moves much easier throughout the community. So, a lot more folks are going to get it. It's still very dangerous for folks that have the elderly, or if you have diabetes, if you're overweight, if you have all these other potential medical conditions, or morbidities, that can kind of co-linger with omicron. It's still creating a very dangerous situation, which is why the hospitalizations are so high. We are not out of this. Are we on the back end? I hope so. Are we going to see our numbers start trickling down in the near future? I really believe so. But we're by no means out of this. We don't know what the next variant could bring. So at least from my point of view, I think we just saw--still have to stay as vigilant as ever, right? You don't--you don't run 24 miles of a marathon and just call it a day, right? You’ve got to run the whole race. And sometimes those last miles can be the hardest, but you’ve got to see it all the way through.

MS. ALEMANY: And on the topic of reaching across the aisle, you've worked with the federal government to receive COVID-19 assistance. There has been a year of Joe Biden in the presidency. What would you say is the biggest difference between how he's handled the coronavirus pandemic versus President Trump's handling of the pandemic?

GOV. SUNUNU: Well, a couple things. I have to be honest. I think communication’s been frustrating. I don't mean to lead with a negative. I try to stay very positive. But I think I speak for all governors when I say--Republican and Democrat--you know, when--in 2020, when we were on the phone every week with the administration, you had the president, the vice president taking a lead role, as a governor who was really managing the process in our own states, Republican and Democratic alike, we could talk to the decision makers. We had direct contact with them. We could get their feedback. And we can--and they could hear from us. And I think that was a very powerful tool in giving America the transparency and connection to decisions at the federal level, what we could transpire here at the state level and get out to our citizens. We’re essentially the localized mouthpiece, if you will, of what was happening at the national level. We don't really have that anymore. I think of all of our calls, we do a weekly call on COVID. I think the president, vice president have participated in two of them in the past year. That's frustrating.

Now they have good people at the White House. Don't get me wrong. They have managers and all of that. We talk to Dr. Fauci almost every week. We talk to the CDC almost every week. But to not talk to the final decision makers, there's a barrier there. And you want to make sure that the questions we have, the concerns that we have, not just as governors but what we're hearing from our communities, is being truly relayed all the way up the chain to the decision makers that ultimately move things forward. So, very tough communication to be sure.

You know, each of the administrations has a bit of a different approach. Again, the former administration was more state centric. I think this administration tries to control everything much more out of Washington. There are some benefits and some downsides to each of those. But I think communication is probably the most frustrating difference that we've seen.

MS. ALEMANY: Is there anything that you've asked from the Biden administration that they have yet to provide?

GOV. SUNUNU: Boy, that’s a great question. Yeah, I think the biggest thing we talk about on those calls is sometimes there's just confusing messages, right? One week you hear they're not going to mandate the vaccine. Two weeks later, they are going to mandate the vaccine. One week, you know, they're in one area, one week they’re other. We could go through--I think everyone understands there's many, many different examples of that. You know, when they released the five-day quarantine provisions, just very recently it was like, okay, that was--kind of came out of the blue. We had a phone call, and I think literally three hours later--they didn't mention anything on the phone call, but three hours later they made this very significant announcement, but then nothing to back it up. So, I think what we ask of them mostly is just can you explain the hows and whys.

I try to be super transparent about how I manage. I go in front of--I do a press conference at least every week to talk about this stuff. We show the data and the trends so that may--folks might not agree with a position we're taking or a strategy we're taking, but at least they understand the hows and whys we're doing it. It's not political. It’s what we're seeing with data. It’s what we're seeing in hospitals, whatever it might be. If anything, we're trying to always ask them can you give us more data, more information, more information.

Recently, you know, we've been very aggressive on home tests. We were one of the states leading the nation on home tests. We've actually done two rounds of what just happened yesterday, which is a very positive thing. You can go online with the federal government website and click on a button, and you get a home test delivered in a couple of weeks. We were doing that in December. Where--we've done it a couple times now where you went online, and you literally got your home test in two days. So, we're very proud to do that.

One of the frustrations we have is we have all these new programs coming on, on a statewide scale, where we're going to have more home tests. And now we're hearing we might not get those tests, right? They're all being diverted to the federal program, not the state program that's already been very successful. So sometimes there are things that are taken away. That happened in the previous administration as well. We had cases of when we were bringing in PPE. We--New Hampshire is really, really good about bringing PPE in, especially from overseas. We got to be one of the best. In fact, we were the lead provider for the federal VA system. They were relying on New Hampshire to bring their PPE in. And there were times early on when those planes were diverted to the feds, effectively. FEMA would take the plane when it landed in Alaska. So that got a little frustrating. So, there are times when the federal government gets in the way. They have their own mission that they're trying to drive on. All of us have the same goal.

But I'm a big believer that states just frankly, for the most part, do it better than the federal government and so you should always defer to the state's flexibility. And that's kind of what we're asking. We're seeing a little bit of a pivot there with the administration a little bit over the past couple weeks. I hope it keeps up. So if anything, I think that’s--it isn't that we don't get certain things from the feds. It's that sometimes they want to do it as a one-size-fits-all solution out of Washington as opposed to saying, you know what, what's important right now for New Hampshire might be very different than Florida, or New York, or Missouri, or California. So, let's really defer to those governors about what their needs are, flexibility in how to spend money. I mean, we get a lot of money from the feds, but there's so many strings attached. I have a housing rental program, right? Rental relief. Good idea. They gave us a lot of money. Maybe half of it has been spent over the past nine months, because rental relief isn't a major problem for us here. I'd love some of that money to be used to actually build bricks and mortar in actual housing. But they don't let us do that. So, we were always asking for more flexibility from them to let us design our own systems with the resources that they're trying to provide.

MS. ALEMANY: And I want to get to the topic of schools quickly. The national school district had to close for several days because there were so many absences due to omicron variant. You’ve described it as a short-term solution. What is the long-term solution for schools?

GOV. SUNUNU: The long-term solution to schools is to run your school as if it was pre-pandemic, which means flexibility. If you want to put a mask order in, of course. That's perfectly fine. You want to put in certain stipulations, that's fine. But kids need to be in school. Now, in that case--and there's been a couple of cases where if teachers are out because a lot of them have COVID and they've got--they're working through their quarantine provisions and isolation--if school students can't be kept safe within the school system, if there's not enough substitutes, whatever it is, then yeah, you have to make those days up, of course.

But we're really trying to create solutions not for the next two or three months but really for the long term. Because are we going to be done this in two or three months? I don't--I hope so. I don't think so, though. Is there going to be another variant down the road? If you keep creating different rules and provisions every couple of months, and you kind of turn emergency orders on like a light switch and turn this off and that's back on, it creates a lot of uncertainty in the system. It creates a lot of uncertainty with parents. Kids want to--need to be in schools. Everybody agrees with that. Maybe the teachers’ union doesn't agree with that, but everyone else agrees with that. They need to be in schools. And so we're trying to make sure that that process is as stable as we can. And that's by saying, okay, let's manage it with the internal management mechanisms that keep kids safe in the classroom--social distancing, how we manage lunch, masks, or however they want--however they want to do it, but also make sure that we know that there is a requirement that kids have to be in classrooms. And we're not--we're doing everything we can to avoid those exceptions to keep kids on that stable path.

MS. ALEMANY: And I want to do a little bit of a pivot to the topic of politics. You disappointed a lot of your fellow Republicans last November when you announced that you wouldn't take on Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan in her reelection bid but would instead run for another term as governor. What factors went into that decision making process?

GOV. SUNUNU: Well, a lot. I mean, I took a lot of time. I spoke to a lot of people. My family was supportive no matter what I wanted to do. A couple things. Number one, I love my job. I really love it. It is one of the most challenging things you can imagine. It comes with a lot of public scrutiny. I get it. But it can be incredibly fulfilling because as a governor, I'm a CEO. I can get things done. I mean, we've rebuilt and redesigned our system to deal with the drug opioid epidemic, and we're getting some of the best results in the country. We're rebuilding our mental health system, and we're transforming how we deal with kids and behavioral health and mental health in our schools and classrooms at a direct level. And to see those systems get designed, work through the bugs, if you will--you know, I'm an engineer by trade. So, I understand no system is ever designed perfectly. That's an incredibly fulfilling thing for me to do, and to work one on one with communities and individuals and kids and businesses to create opportunities for them. You don't do that in Washington. That's not my gig. Nobody does it. Democrats don't do it. Republicans don't do it. They are often all too satisfied with just stopping a process. They're all too satisfied with just being the party of no if they're in the minority or being a roadblock. And sometimes when they have control as well, they don't do enough for my liking either, either side. And I think there's no higher ground there. I think Democrats and Republicans are equally to blame for that. It's--it is unfortunately the malaise of Washington. As a governor, I get to do it. And I'm not term limited out. You know, former Governor Rick Scott of Florida, tremendous governor, tremendous guy, he was term limited out, and he wanted to keep serving his state. And I give him so much credit for that. So, he went to the Senate. And I think he has the right mindset, and he is the right champion to slowly change the mindset of the U.S. Senate. I don't--I'm not term limited out. I can run again in 2022. I can keep serving my citizens to keep getting stuff done and keep getting results. And that's what it's about. If I'm going to go through all this public scrutiny, I've said before, I'm damn well going to get something done, and get something to show for it. And I'm very proud of that. It doesn’t mean people agree with everything I might want and what I'm trying to do. It doesn't mean I can get everything I want. I’ve got--I still have to work. I've worked with Republican legislatures. I've worked with Democrat legislatures. But at the end of the day, we always get stuff done. We always cut taxes. We always create more flexibility, regulatory wise, and we're designing these new systems, which for me is very exciting.

MS. ALEMANY: And you just make reference to it, but you expanded on it a little bit more yesterday and you made headlines for this interview where you told The Washington Examiner that it bothered you that GOP senators you spoke with ahead of making this decision were okay with being a roadblock and doing little more with the majority than they're doing right now. Do you think that House Leader Kevin McCarthy versus Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is doing a better job with House Republicans than McConnell's doing with his Senate?

GOV. SUNUNU: Well, let's be clear. It's not a Republican versus Democrat issue. Democrats are just as bad at doing nothing. They did--they wanted to roadblock everything Donald Trump wanted to do and the Republicans wanted to do in 2017 and 2018. Republicans are trying to roadblock a lot of things now, and I'm very supportive of that, actually. I don't want to misunderstand. I think the Build Back Better bill was a disaster. Nationalizing our elections in New Hampshire is a great example. We do our elections very, very well, here in New Hampshire. We get the results on time. We were--after Iowa really blew it in the first in the caucus primary, the Democratic Party blew it in the first of the caucus primary back in 2020, I guess it was. It was New Hampshire's first in the nation primary where we ran it, ran it almost absolutely perfectly, got the results that night, and put the whole country back on track that the process can work, not some nationalized system. So, I'm all for stopping that kind of stuff.

But at the end of the day, whether it's managing a budget, dealing with Social Security, or Medicare, immigration reform, which I think we all agree has to happen in some way, let's--I don't think either party is ever going to get 60 votes. So, let's try to find the 52-vote version, if you know what I mean. You’ve got to work with the other side. You’ve got to find something to bring other folks along on the other side to get stuff done. And I know the bases of each party are adamant about never working with the other side, but I don't believe in that, and I think 90 percent of America doesn't agree with that. Ninety percent of America wants stuff to move forward in one way or another. And there has to be some way to compromise. It can't be all or nothing.

So, I think both parties are very much at fault, that, you know, when given the minority position--you know, Democrats in the minority position love that filibuster. Boy they wrote letters on it, and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, they all love that filibuster then. But the hypocrisy is, oh, now they don't, right? Because now they can actually drive in a very authoritarian way what they want--what they want to do. So, you know, I guess it's--it comes down to that a little bit. I think there's a little bit of hypocrisy across Washington, and I think that's part of that Washington malaise. It's whatever fits my political position today is where I'm going to be. I don't believe in that. I don't.

I think we all have a much higher responsibility. The job is bigger than ourselves. It really is. The job is not about us as individuals, as governors or senators or congressmen. The job is about those who serve. And if we ain't delivering results, then we don't deserve to have the job.

MS. ALEMANY: But yesterday, you had said that it was your GOP senators explicitly that were okay--

[Overlapping speakers]

GOV. SUNUNU: Well, those are the only ones I talked to. Yeah, those are really the only ones I had spoken to. I didn't really talk to any Democratic senators. Obviously, it was the GOP senators trying--that we're calling, trying to get me to run and all of that. Also, I didn't need to be the 51st vote. I really do believe Republicans have a good chance of winning back the Senate fairly handily in 2022. I don’t--for a while it was you need to run because you can be the 51st vote and all that. So, I don't feel like that. I think we have other great candidates here in New Hampshire that are likely going to beat Maggie Hassan, without a doubt. She's--unfortunately for her, she's not very well liked here in New Hampshire. She's never really here in the state. So, I think there's other candidates that can do it.

So, the article that you're referencing talked about Republican senators, because those are the only ones I was really talking to about running. I didn't have many Democrats begging me to run. I don't think that should be a surprise to folks. But both sides are equally at fault for, you know, not moving things along.

MS. ALEMANY: What would you want to get done in the Senate that your colleagues--that your counterparts, your Republican counterparts in Washington, D.C., are not doing now?

GOV. SUNUNU: Well, well, let me talk about the Democratic counterparts, because they're the ones that are in control. There's no discussion of balancing a budget. There's no discussion of 30 trillion in debt. We're just hoping that goes away. As a governor, I balance my budget every two years. I cut taxes every year. I do regulatory reform every year. Social Security and Medicare, those are going to go bankrupt in not long from now, literally within the next decade or so. That has to be addressed. It absolutely has to be addressed. We have elderly citizens here in my state that are counting on those benefits being there. And if we don't--there's no real surety of that happening. So, you got to find a way forward to make sure that there's solvency. I think immigration reform, both sides of the aisle have put forth good ideas of how to--of their pieces of immigration reform to be done. Everyone agrees it has to be done in some fashion. So do it. So do it, because it's important, and it's important to America. I don't have a massive immigration problem with my friends and counterparts in Canada, but obviously we see a southern border massive humanitarian crisis that is being horribly ignored by this administration.

And aside from the illegal immigration issue, you have the human trafficking issue, you have the drugs coming across the border at an unprecedented amount. To say that we're not jumping on that as a top priority in the country is incredibly frustrating as a governor who, believe it or not, even up in New Hampshire that trickles through, right? A lot of the drugs or opioids we might see here in New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont, their--vast majority are coming over the border, the southern border. So, we all have an interest in seeing that flourish in terms of a bill or a piece of legislation that gets done the right way, a bipartisan way. If you can't get everything you want, that's okay. Let's take incremental steps. Let's find bridges--right?--to bring us together, and maybe that builds bigger bridges in the future. And that's what I'd like to see out of both sides.

MS. ALEMANY: And one of the issues that has become one of the most galvanizing issues with the party in recent months has been the issue of what Republicans call election integrity. Senator Mike Braun last week, though, did come out and say that the former president had lost the 2020 election and that there is not any new information nor evidence of widespread fraud that would have altered the results of the election. Is that a statement that you agree with?

GOV. SUNUNU: Yeah, look, I tell people all the time, stop talking about 2020 and stop worrying about 2024. Let's--if you worried about the politics and all that, worry about 2022. Get something done today that you can go back to your constituents and say this is what we got done, this is why. And from a purely political point of view for Republicans, if Republicans focus on that, they can be successful in '22. If you're worried about all this other ancillary stuff, you're not bringing in another new voter worrying about the 2020 election. You're not bringing in another new voter, just talking about what might happen someday in 2024. If you want to win elections, you got to win what's in front of you. And if you--if you--you can't win--if you--if you don't win, you can't govern, right? So let's win in 2022. Let's focus there and stop with all this nonsense about the far past or the far future. Focus on today. And that's what we need to do. And when you do that, I think it kind of centers you a little bit. It gets your priorities in order, both politically and practically, to get stuff done.

MS. ALEMANY: In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis just proposed a special police agency to monitor elections. It's a $6 million proposal to hire 52 people to investigate, detect, apprehend, and arrest anyone for alleged violation of election laws. Do you think this is in good use of Florida taxpayers’ money?

GOV. SUNUNU: Well, I'm not going to speak to Florida. I can tell you that if someone is, you know, knowingly and willingly violating election law, they have to be held accountable. I mean, I think we can all believe that. That's a violation of the law. You can't let people abuse your election system and just be, you know, held unaccountable to that. I don't know about this 52-person police force or anything like that. You know, that's Florida. Florida's a very different state than New Hampshire. You know, so I would just say that I think we can all agree that there has to be accountability, that if somebody actively breaks the law, actively tries to thwart an electoral system--an election system, or voter fraud or whatever it is, there has to be accountability there.

MS. ALEMANY: And before we wrap up, I want to throw an Ann Coulter quote at you. She told The New York Times over the weekend that Trump is done and that everyone should stop obsessing over him. Is this a statement that you agree with? What are your thoughts on a Trump 2024 run?

GOV. SUNUNU: Well, let's--when you talk about everyone needs to stop obsessing, I would say everyone in that statement--with all due respect--is the media, right? So, the media loves to talk about Trump. The media loves to talk about the extremes, the AOC and the Bernie Sanders. Donald Trump does not define the--a Republican and a Republican Party, just like Bernie Sanders and AOC don't define the average Democrat, right? We're defined by what we believe in as a whole--local government, you know, limited control on government, low taxes, those types of things, individual freedom. That's what defines a Republican. It's not a single individual. I know the exciting media story is Trump says this and the other extreme says that. But the vast majority of news you see now is about those extremes. We've--I think both parties have handed our microphones, unwillingly sometimes, to those extreme elements. And that's the fight.

Look, when we were back in grade school, if you heard there was going to be a fight on the playground at 3:00, where did everyone show up at 3:00, right? They showed up on the playground. They wanted to watch the fight. Social media gets invented, and they learn very quickly there's money to be made in that fight, because people are going to come. And they love the fact that everyone's kind of screeching from the hilltops on social media. Mainstream media finally catches up and they say, you know what, they're making a lot of money over there. We can make money here, too, by playing to those extremes, because that's where the fight is. That's where the argument is, as opposed to saying what's the best thing for America is what are we getting done? Let's look at some positive things.

I'm not saying you just ignore the fringes. But the--yesterday's news of that statement that Miss Coulter said is more I think about the news aspects of it. The average American isn’t focusing on Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders or AOC and Joe Biden. They're really focusing on do I--do I have a job? Are taxes getting lower? Do I have more financial freedom and individual freedom? Do I have the ability to make choices for my family and where my kids go to school? And those are everyday issues that really affect people's lives 99 percent of the time. And that's why as a governor, I love being governor, because I can affect those things really impactfully I think for families in a very positive way.

So, you know, I just think that the--I think, yes, as we get into 2022, you'll have more candidates. Folks are running for Congress. They’re running for state office. Those candidates have to stand on their own merits. It's not just--the news isn't--no longer just about the fringes. It's about those individuals. What are they about? Are they going to look you in the eye? Can we trust them as folks that want to lead our community, whether it's the planning board, governor or U.S. Senate, right? And so those candidates on both sides of the aisle will really, I think, control--as they should--the message of the party, the message of what they're about, and the message about what they can bring to their constituents. And so I think time heals that extremity wound a little bit. But as an elected official and a leader, I think we also have to drive forward and say, yeah, we have to be about getting stuff done. That has to be the first priority and the top news story, and what we're not doing. And if we're just sitting around not doing anything, we should be held accountable for that, too.

MS. ALEMANY: And, Governor, just a quick yes or no since we're all out of time, but if former President Trump throws his hat into the ring in 2024, would you take your name off of the table of potentially running for president in 2024?

GOV. SUNUNU: I'm not even thinking about 2024. I got election in '22. Are you kidding? I got to--I’ve got to win that one. I’ve got to earn every vote still. So, I'll focus on my election in '22, and then we'll see what happens. I'm not even--really, I know a lot of people talking about the presidential thing, but not really on my plate right now. And you know, it's--what I decide to do is between me and my family and how I can best serve the constituents, not really who else gets in the race.

MS. ALEMANY: Sounds like not a yes nor a no. We’re going to have to leave it there. But thank you so much for joining us today.

GOV. SUNUNU: You bet. Thanks so much for the time.

MS. ALEMANY: I’m Jackie Alemany. As always, thanks so much for watching. To check out what interviews we have coming up, please head to to register and find out more about all of our upcoming programs. Thanks again.

[End recorded session]