Corey Lewandowski: Trump has tasked me with destroying Chris Sununu

Corey being Corey, there’s no way to tell how much he might be exaggerating what Trump actually said to him. Remember that he was fired from Trump’s Super PAC in September after the wife of a Republican donor accused him of sexually harassing her at an event. That wasn’t the first time he’d been too disruptive even for TrumpWorld either, having been fired as campaign manager in 2016.

But he keeps finding ways to worm his way back into the inner circle.

He told Howie Carr this week that he’d seen Trump recently and that Trump had given him a new political mission, finding a primary challenger to New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu. But there’s a wide variety of possibilities in how that conversation might have come about. In the most serious iteration, Trump might have summoned him to Mar-a-Lago after giving the Sununu matter some thought, ultimately choosing to entrust one of his most loyal hatchet men with carrying out a special vendetta against a new political enemy. The political equivalent of a mob hit, in other words.

In the least serious iteration, maybe a desperate Lewandoswki called him up begging for a way back into his good graces, promising to do him any favor he wanted. He might even have suggested one: “You want me to take out Sununu for you? I’m from New Hampshire. I know people there who can build a campaign that’ll beat him.” To which an annoyed Trump, eager to get off the phone, might have replied, “Sure, Corey, whatever.”

I’d guess the truth is closer to the first scenario than the second just because it would be in character for Trump to be nursing a grudge against a Republican who’s criticized him mildly in the past and eager to punish him for his disloyalty. Which means, with apologies to Brian Kemp, Doug Ducey, and Charlie Baker, it’s time for a new game of “Why exactly does Trump want to end this popular Republican governor’s career?”

“The president is very unhappy with the chief executive officer of the state of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu,” Lewandowski replied. “And Sununu, in the president’s estimation, is someone who’s never been loyal to him. And the president said it would be really great if somebody would run against Chris Sununu.”

Lewandowski said Trump has given him two jobs in the Granite State.

“One is making sure we’ve got a great candidate in U.S. Senate race who can beat Maggie Hassan, another failed, hack, Washington, DC politician who never delivered. And the second is potentially finding someone to run against Chris Sununu, to make sure they understand that the ‘America First’ agenda is more than just a saying. It’s actually about putting people first and listening to what constituents have to say,” Lewandowski said.

“So the president wants to get rid of Chris Sununu as the governor of New Hampshire,” Carr replied.

Sununu endorsed Trump in 2016 and 2020. But, as Kemp has learned to his dismay, that’s no guarantee that you won’t eventually be marked for political death.

Is … this why Trump suddenly has it in for him?

Is it the fact that Sununu doesn’t sound eager for Trump to campaign with him?

Or is it because Sununu hasn’t ruled out a 2024 presidential run? Granted, Trump would slaughter him if he ran, but just the idea of another Republican staking a claim to the crown that he owns might annoy Trump into ordering a reprisal.

Might this be part of the reason too? Sununu hasn’t committed to running in 2024 but he hasn’t committed to backing Trump either:

Asked by co-host Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” if he would support a potential Trump 2024 campaign, noting his endorsement of the then-president last year, Sununu said he is “not even looking at ‘24.”

“Look, I’m a big believer, if you spent all your time looking at what happened in 2020, and all your time thinking about 2024, as a Republican Party we’re gonna miss 2022, and that’s where you got to hopefully inspire new folks to step up, to want to run every for everything from governor to the town planning board,” Sununu said.

“So not even considering ‘24. I think if we do that, whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, you’re really missing the boat,” he added.

How about when Sununu said a few weeks ago that Trump doesn’t define the Republican Party, a bit of wishful thinking that was destined not to play well with the guy who defines the Republican Party? Could that have pushed Trump over the edge?

The point to grasp here is that a Sununu victory this fall is an absolute gimme in a state that hasn’t been kind to Republicans lately. Not since 2000 has New Hampshire voted GOP in a presidential election. Both of the state’s current senators are Democrats too, although Maggie Hassan’s days may be numbered considering the strongly pro-GOP national environment that’s expected in November. Sununu is a glaring exception to the Democratic trend, having won reelection as governor two years ago by 30 points. He’s figured out a way to make himself electable in hostile political territory despite having endorsed Trump, a political trick so impressive that the party desperately tried to recruit him to run against Hassan for Senate.

But he turned them down, probably in part because he figured he’d get flack from Trump for his “disloyalty” if he ran in a nationally watched race. Running for governor was the safe option. Except now, thanks to Trump, that’s not so safe either.

I’m skeptical that even Trump can find a primary challenger in New Hampshire capable of beating Sununu but if he does it wouldn’t be the first time he’s chased a popular Republican governor out of office. Centrist Charlie Baker had a massively high approval rating in Massachusetts, giving the GOP an unusual perch in a state so blue, but Baker declined to run for reelection due to the likelihood that he’d have to fend off a Trump-backed MAGA primary challenger to get the party’s nomination. That was a harsh blow to the party inflicted by Trump, ensuring that a very electable GOP incumbent would be replaced on the ballot with a completely unelectable populist in an inhospitable state. But I doubt Trump cares. It’s the Brian Kemp scenario all over again: His top priority is taking revenge on “disloyal” Republicans, not beating Democrats. If he can end the careers of Baker and Kemp and Sununu at the cost of getting Democratic governors elected, he’ll take that deal.

Exactly the type of guy you’d want to lead your political party.

Exit question: Is the primary challenger Lewandowski has in mind for Sununu … himself? He’s hinted at running in New Hampshire before. Maybe he figures Trump will go all-in on backing him in a primary for the sake of ousting Sununu, giving Corey a realistic shot at the Republican nomination. And, uh, setting Democrats up to crush the GOP in the general election.

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