ABC News’ Rick Klein reports:
Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu sees four frontrunners in the early positioning for the Granite State’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary, and said the man who won the primary in 2008 goes into the campaign as the frontrunner.
Asked who will win the 2012 primary in his home state, Sununu told us on ABC’s “Top Line” today: “I suspect it will be one of the four governors and former governors that have a good track record: [Mitt] Romney, [Tim] Pawlenty, Haley Barbour or Mitch Daniels.”
“And obviously, I think because he was there before,” Sununu continued, “Mitt Romney is at the head of the pack of four.”
Sununu, a former White House chief of staff who recently wrapped up a term as chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, had less kind words for some other contenders, including Ambassador Jon Huntsman and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
On Huntsman, who will soon be leaving his post as President Obama’s ambassador to China, Sununu said: “I’ve never met him, but I’ve seen some of the positions he took. I think he’s rather liberal on a number of positions. … New Hampshire is a conservative state. And we’re going to support — and I will end up probably supporting — a conservative candidate.”
Sununu said Gingrich’s teaming up with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in an ad vowing to tackle climate change is going to be difficult for him to explain away to primary voters.
“I just having run through my mind that television ad of him sitting with Nancy Pelosi on there, trying to tell us that we need to have a carbon tax or some other kind of crazy legislation to deal with climate,” Sununu said. “I think it’s pretty clear that that’s not a conservative position, that that’s not a Republican position. I don’t know what motivated him to go arm-in-arm with Nancy Pelosi, but I think that’s a problem for him.”
Romney’s support for a universal health care law in Massachusetts is not as harmful to his chances, Sununu said, in part because of how he’s opposed Obama’s health care law: “I compliment him for having been that aggressive in saying, ‘I’m going to kill Obamacare with a executive order as much as I can until I can get the House and Senate to send me legislation that puts a stake through its heart.’ ”
Generally speaking, Sununu said the candidates are waiting too long to jump into the race.
“I think the candidates better decide pretty quickly if they’re going to run or not if they want to get some of the significant figures to be involved in their campaigns. Because people are making their decisions in terms of supporters, even though they may not be announcing them. Supporters are making decisions early.”
Watch the full interview with former Gov. John Sununu HERE.
We also chatted with National Journal’s Jim O’Sullivan about the political fallout from the military operations in Libya, with voices on the right and the left in Congress angry at the Obama administration’s stance.
Watch that portion of “Top Line” HERE.