Former President Donald Trump remains the commanding front-runner for the 2024 Republican nomination, but vocal GOP Trump critic Gov. Chris Sununu argues the race in the first primary state of New Hampshire is “wide open.”

Sununu, who’s repeatedly said he’ll make an endorsement in the Republican race later this year, has been teaming up with a number of the White House hopefuls on the campaign trail in New Hampshire, which holds the first primary and second overall contest in the GOP presidential nominating calendar.

On Tuesday, Sununu met up with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and for the first time spent an entire day campaigning with a Republican presidential candidate.

Asked in an interview with Fox News Digital if his full day with DeSantis was any kind of signal, Sununu emphasized that “it’s a signal that Ron’s making a commitment to New Hampshire.”


While Trump remains the commanding front-runner in the race for the GOP nomination, DeSantis for months had second place in the polls to himself, ahead of the rest of the field of Republican White House contenders.

But former ambassador to the United Nations and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has leapfrogged DeSantis to stand in second place in some of the most recent polls in New Hampshire and in her home state, which holds the first southern contest and votes fourth in the Republican schedule.


Joining DeSantis in taking questions reporters at the Red Arrow Diner in Londonderry — their first stop on Tuesday — Sununu said “I think there’s three or four candidates that are clearly surging ahead.”

Later, joining DeSantis in a Fox News interview in Concord, Sununu reiterated that “the race is wide open. I think that’s the most important message.”

Pointing to Granite State voters (who are known to be late deciders) the governor said “folks won’t make their decision who they’re voting for till maybe late December, early January. So still plenty of time to actually earn those votes.”

While he’s concentrated much of his time the past two months in Iowa, which leads off the GOP nominating calendar, DeSantis on Tuesday returned to New Hampshire for the second straight week.

“We are going to be in New Hampshire and in Iowa nonstop between now and the caucuses and the primary. I think you got to show up. I think you got to earn the vote,” DeSantis emphasized.

And taking aim at Trump — who’s holding a much more limited campaign schedule — DeSantis stressed “nobody is entitled to this. You’re not going to see me out there wedded to the teleprompter. I’m going to go out there and let it rip. I’m going to take all the questions and we’re going to shake the hands and we’re going to earn this thing the way you need to.”

Sununu’s teamed up many of DeSantis’ rivals on the campaign trail, including Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.

Scott, who last week returned to New Hampshire to file to place his name on the state’s GOP presidential primary ballot, on Monday told staffers that moving forward he’d concentrate nearly all of this campaign time in Iowa.

Sununu wouldn’t say if Scott’s move knocked him out of contention to earn an endorsement. 

And while he said “every candidate has to decide what’s best for their campaign,” Sununu added, “I believe that every candidate’s campaign is going to do better really splitting their time between Iowa and New Hampshire. Two different types of voters but you have to connect with those voters. You’ve got to earn your time there.”

“You can’t just do well in Iowa and then think it’s going to translate to success here in New Hampshire,” Sununu added. “It doesn’t really work that way.”

Sununu’s repeatedly downplayed the significance of his eventual endorsement, telling Fox News that “I’m never a big believer that endorsements matter as much as the press think they do.”

But the presidential contenders continue to praise Sununu, and have made no secret that they’d be thrilled to land Sununu’s backing

“Chris Sununu and I have been friends for 12 years. I have enormous respect for him as a person and as a governor… he’s done a really great job here for eight years,” Christie told reporters last week as he filed in New Hampshire. “I would love to have him on my team. I make no secret about that.”

Sununu, who flirted for months with a White House run of his own before announcing in June that he wouldn’t seek the presidency, told Fox News earlier this month that “I’m not going to wait too long. My sense is November. Early December. Just like most voters, I’m going to start narrowing this thing down and then when I go, I’ll go.”

On Tuesday, when asked again about his timetable, the governor said “when the mood hits me.”

Adding that he’s not coy, he said “when I know everyone else will know.”

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.