Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire said on Sunday that former President Donald J. Trump “absolutely contributed” to an insurrection and that Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election were “absolutely terrible” — but that nothing, not even felony convictions, would stop him from voting for Mr. Trump because the economy, border security and “culture change” were more important.

The interview, on ABC News’s “This Week,” showcased Mr. Sununu’s transformation from Trump critic — while supporting Nikki Haley in the Republican primary, he said Mr. Trump was “worried about jail time” and “not a real Republican” — to loyal foot soldier.

It is a transformation that has repeated itself time and again within the Republican Party, and one that Mr. Sununu previewed in January, when he was campaigning for Ms. Haley but said he would support Mr. Trump if he won the nomination.

“No one should be surprised by my support,” he said on Sunday. “I think the real discussion is, you know, Americans moving away from Biden. That’s how bad Biden has become as president. There’s just no doubt about it, right? You can’t ignore inflation. You can’t ignore the border and say that these issues in the courthouse are going to be the one thing that brings Biden back into office.”

The interviewer, George Stephanopoulos, pressed Mr. Sununu on why he was supporting a man who he said had “contributed to the insurrection” on Jan. 6.

Mr. Sununu affirmed that he still believed that. But he said it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a Republican governor would support a Republican nominee, and suggested that Mr. Stephanopoulos was out of touch with public opinion if he thought concerns about democracy or felony convictions would sway voters.

“You believe that a president who contributed to an insurrection should be president again?” Mr. Stephanopoulos asked.

“As does 51 percent of America, George,” Mr. Sununu said. “I mean, really. I understand you’re part of the media, I understand you’re in this New York City bubble or whatever it is, but you got to look around what’s happening across this country.”

He went on: “It’s not about just supporting Trump. It’s getting rid of what we have today. It’s about understanding inflation is crushing families. It’s understanding that this border issue is not a Texas issue, it’s a 50-state issue that has to be brought under control. It’s about that type of elitism that the average American is just sick and tired of, and it’s a culture change. That’s what I’m supporting.”

Inflation has declined sharply from its 2022 peak, but was higher than expected in a report released last week.

Mr. Sununu said that Americans’ desire for “culture change,” a phrase he used eight times but did not concretely define, outweighed concerns about Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the election or the four criminal trials he faces, the first of which begins this week.

While Mr. Trump as the Republican nominee wasn’t what he wanted, “we’ll take it if we have to,” Mr. Sununu said. “That’s how badly America wants a culture change.”

Mr. Stephanopoulos pushed back once more.

“So just to sum up, you would support him for president even if he was convicted in classified documents,” he said. “You support him for president even though you believe he contributed to an insurrection. You support him for president even though you believe he’s lying about the last election. You’d support him for president even if he’s convicted in the Manhattan case. I just want to say, the answer to that is yes, correct?”

“Yeah,” Mr. Sununu said. “Me and 51 percent of America.”


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Credit: NYTimes.com

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