NBC Host Kristen Welker Presses New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu On ‘Softened’ Expectations For Haley

[Screenshot/NBC/"Meet The Press"]

Hailey Gomez General Assignment Reporter
Font Size:

NBC host Kristen Welker pressed Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu on Sunday over his “softened expectations” on how GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley will perform in the state’s upcoming primary. 

Sununu appeared on “Meet The Press” to discuss his thoughts on Haley’s chances in the upcoming primary election in New Hampshire. Welker questioned the governor on his expectations for Haley, pointing out that after announcing his endorsement for the candidate he had claimed she would win by a “landslide” prior to the Iowa caucus. (RELATED: Nikki Haley Says New Hampshire Will ‘Correct’ Iowa Caucus Results As She Trails Trump In Polls)

When you first came out — you endorsed Nikki Haley, you sent the expectations pretty sky high. Welker stated. And now you are saying a strong second place showing would be, ‘great.’ So what changed, Governor?” Welker questioned. 

Sununu pushed back on the NBC host, stating that while he believes she can “still” win, Haley’s focus is on building “the momentum from Iowa.” Sununu also stated Haley “knocked all the other candidates out” during the Iowa caucus, making it just a race between her and former President Donald Trump. 

“It would be great, but no, I think she still can win. There’s no doubt about it. But everything Nikki is trying to do is build on the momentum from Iowa — 2% to 20%. Build on even more momentum here,” Sununu stated.

“The fact that she’s knocked all the other candidates out: nobody thought that was possible, but she’s really knocked everybody out. Even Ron, I mean, he’s in it, but he’s not really in it. It’s a Haley-Trump race. I’ve always said you wanted a one-on-one race going into Super Tuesday. I think Super Tuesday is probably where you actually have to have to start winning states, but as long as the momentum keeps building into her home state, that’s an amazing opportunity to turn this thing around.”

Welker, however, doubled down on her question, asking Sununu on his “softened” expectations and if Haley needs to win New Hampshire to “stay” in the race. Sununu continued to note Haley’s “momentum” building, stating she would be preparing to win her home state of South Carolina. (RELATED: Here’s What Lies Ahead For GOP Candidates Following Trump’s Iowa Win)

“But you’ve softened those expectations. You’re saying she can win. Does she have to win? Is this make-or-break for her to stay in this race?” Welker questioned.

“She doesn’t have to win. I mean, look, nobody goes from single-digits in December to ‘You absolutely have to win’ in January. I think that’s a media expectation that’s being set up there. The fact that it can happen at all, right? Trump said he was going to run the table and win all 50 states and everyone said, ‘Yep, it’s a done deal.’ It’s not a done deal,” Sununu stated. 

“She’s challenging him here. And now, again, she gets to go to her home state where she’s won a lot before. She knows how to do it on the ground and people don’t realize the South Carolina [primary] isn’t next week. It’s like three or four weeks away, and Nick is going to have a lot of time to build on the momentum she’s already created.”

The former president recently won the Iowa caucus by a landslide, hitting 51%, compared to Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ 21.2% and Haley’s 19.1%, according to the Associated Press. As the New Hampshire primary election draws closer, polls have indicated Trump is the frontrunner GOP candidate for the state.

A recent poll conducted by Suffolk University, The Boston Globe, and NBC10 Boston of 500 likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters showed Trump is predicted to beat Haley by nearly 17 points, with the former president sitting at roughly 54 percent. Additionally, a second poll conducted by the Saint Anselm College Survey Center showed Wednesday that, out of 1,398 likely state GOP voters, roughly 52% answered Trump was their nominee, pushing him 14 points ahead of Haley.