Chris Sununu, the New Hampshire governor and CNN fixture, contains multitudes. Sununu does not know Jeff Roe and said he wouldn’t hire him even if he were running for president (more on this in a minute) because he doesn’t believe in political consultants (even though many of his friends are political consultants) and he admits he’ll need to hire a few if he runs for president. When we met for lunch on Thursday, he didn’t trot me into some mom-and-pop diner filled with his supporters; instead, we went to a place called The Islander Cafe, in downtown Portsmouth, where the only three customers were Democrats. Sure, they each said they liked Sununu (maybe because he was hovering nearby) and that they didn’t care for Kamala Harris, but that’s New Hampshire for you.
Sununu told me that there’s a “61 percent chance” he runs for president—his words—and 39 percent chance that he just plays the role of kingmaker in New Hampshire, where he has some of the highest approval ratings in the country. In a long and candid conversation, he told me that he wants to wait until his legislature is out of session to make a decision. Unlike most pundits and operatives who argue for the value of early entry, Sununu thinks that he can make up his mind by mid-June. Indeed, Sununu has been criticized for a Hamletesque quality, one in which he appears to signal alternatively that he is running and then isn’t. But he is a contemplative guy. He told me there’s only a 50 percent chance he runs for re-election in New Hampshire, where he’s on his fourth consecutive two-year term, more than his dad, former governor John Sununu, and any other Republican in New Hampshire, ever.
Meanwhile, he remains a force in the race, formally or otherwise. On Friday, he is scheduled to meet with Ron DeSantis, who will be chatting with more than 50 state legislators. Sununu said he gives all of the G.O.P. candidates advice when they come to town. He let me know that he thought it was going to be challenging for DeSantis to explain his six-week abortion ban to both Republicans and Democrats in the state, a point he underscored by making a throat-slitting gesture while driving me around in his red ’66 Mustang convertible. We also chatted about his positions on immigration, education, and who can beat Trump. This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.