Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons and New Hampshire's Republican Gov. Chris Sununu on Sunday weighed in on their respective parties' 2024 prospects ahead of what appears to be an increasingly likely rematch between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.
Coons told ABC "This Week" co-anchor Jonathan Karl that he believes Biden will overcome voter discontent, as seen most recently in a CNN survey last week, and be formidable in a general election despite Democrats' concerns about him as their leader -- while Sununu, a vocal Trump critic, expressed optimism that someone else will manage to clinch the GOP nomination despite an avalanche of polls so far showing Trump with significant leads nationally and in key early states.
"The great news is that President Biden has a very strong record to run on, that what we've gotten accomplished in Congress and what he's done here at home and abroad on the world stage has made us stronger, has built a strong and recovering economy and has put us on a great path forward," Coons said, noting that the election is still "14 months away .... It doesn't actually matter what a head-to-head poll says."
Just look back at this point in 2007 and 2011, he contended -- when then-candidates Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney were surging.
Sununu, appearing on "This Week" after Coons, made his own case for why Trump is vulnerable while also saying conservative voters on the ground are motivated by issues like inflation and the southern border rather than Trump's connection to Jan. 6 or his unprecedented criminal charges, which he denies.
"The fact that former President Trump is a former president, the leader of the party, and he doesn't even really have 50% of the Republican base support tells you there's a real problem there," Sununu said. "The field is going to keep winnowing down, I think. As we've talked about a lot, if it gets to one-on-one Trump and another candidate, that other candidate is undoubtedly going to beat him by the time the [Republican] convention rolls around."
Coons, a close Biden ally who holds his old seat in the Senate, swatted away the president's poor polling numbers, which include broad swaths of Democrats worrying over the 80-year-old's age and wanting someone else as the party's 2024 nominee.
"What matters is, what's your record?" Coons said, reiterating what the White House sees as Biden's key achievements including historically low unemployment, increased investments in infrastructure and manufacturing and efforts to lower prescription drug costs.
Coons also dismissed worries that legal issues surrounding Hunter Biden, the president's younger son, would impact his father's administration and reelection effort.
Special counsel David Weiss said in a court filing last week that he plans to seek an indictment of Hunter Biden by the end of the month after Hunter Biden previously lied on a federal firearm form by indicating that he wasn't using drugs while at the time being addicted to crack cocaine.
Hunter Biden wrote extensively in his 2021 memoir about his behavior while on drugs and his subsequent recovery.
"He was deep in addiction, Hunter Biden was, when he misrepresented that on a background check form. That's been publicly known for a long time now," Coons said. "Hunter Biden is not going to be on the election polls, he is not standing for election next November. Donald Trump likely is, and the four different legal matters where Donald Trump's been charged ... stand in stark contrast."
Hunter Biden's attorney said in a statement last week, in part, "We expect a fair resolution of the sprawling, 5-year investigation into Mr. Biden that was based on the evidence and the law, not outside political pressure."
Trump has denied all wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty in his four cases. He claims he is being targeted because of his politics, which prosecutors dispute.
On the other side of the aisle, Sununu said on "This Week" that -- amid the news of South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem formally backing Trump in the primary -- he thinks other Republican governors are waiting to get off the sidelines to make endorsements in the race and suggested that Trump's polling lead could narrow as the primaries draw nearer.
"You and I are in this mix almost every single day, but the average voter isn't," Sununu told Karl. "They'll really start getting engaged in the October, November timeframe comes. And I think if you can get down to about six candidates by Iowa, three or four by New Hampshire, there’s no doubt you’ll have a one-on-one race going into Super Tuesday. And that’s where the former President Trump is really in trouble."
Sununu said he thought former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, entrepreneur and commentator Vivek Ramaswamy, former Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis performed well in the first primary debate. He added that North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum is "spending money" and "hitting the ground" and argued former New Jersey Gov. Chris Chirstie is gaining steam in New Hampshire.
When pressed as to whether he'd make an endorsement before New Hampshire's critical primary, Sununu said that he would.
"I would say so, yeah," he said, though he wouldn't say who he's considering despite admitting that "I'm not very good about being coy."