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GLOBE NH | MORNING REPORT

‘I’m still the governor 24/7,′ Sununu says as he faces criticism for extensive travel

While acknowledging that Sununu keeps a busy schedule these days, some fellow Republicans have said he’s doing exactly what a governor should do as a traveling “cheerleader” for New Hampshire

Chris Sununu speaks onstage at the 2023 TIME100 Summit at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 25, 2023 in New York City.Jemal Countess/Getty Images for TIME

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Governor Chris Sununu isn’t in New Hampshire today. His office said he went to Austin, Texas, on Monday to attend a meeting of the Republican Governors Association and will return Wednesday, without using any taxpayer money to fund his travels.

Sununu’s office said he’ll remain available throughout the trip to act in his official capacity — a reassurance his team has offered regularly this year, when announcing the governor’s excursions. It’s what they said when Sununu traveled to the SXSW Conference in Austin, the NRA’s annual meeting in Indianapolis, an RNC donor retreat in Nashville, a speaking engagement in Naples, Florida, two events in New York City, three in Washington, D.C., and a taping of “Real Time with Bill Maher” in Los Angeles, all in the past five months. 

While acknowledging that Sununu keeps a busy schedule these days, some fellow Republicans have said he’s doing exactly what a governor should do as a traveling “cheerleader” for New Hampshire. Meanwhile, some Democrats have criticized him as an “absent” officeholder who seems more interested in the presidency than in his current job. 

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Will he actually launch a formal bid for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024? More likely than not, Sununu said, telling Puck News last week that there’s an oddly specific “61 percent chance” he runs. 

The field is growing more crowded by the day. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina launched his campaign Monday, joining former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and other declared candidates as they chase former president Donald Trump, the GOP frontrunner. Trump’s top potential challenger, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis — who just met with Sununu in New Hampshire — is expected to jump into the race this week. 

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When he sat down in Concord last week with local reporters, Sununu said the GOP field will “winnow down very quickly” in the coming months. Adding his name to the list of declared candidates wouldn’t necessarily help Trump win, he said. 

Sununu expressed confidence in his ability to fundraise for a potential campaign, and he vowed to keep the state as his top priority, even if he decides to hit the campaign trail. 

“I’m still the governor 24/7,” he said. “There’s still a responsibility to that.”  Whenever he travels out of state, Sununu said he keeps in constant contact with his team in New Hampshire. “I wouldn’t do anything that would put the state in any sort of harm’s way or lack of oversight and management,” he said.  

After his return on Wednesday, Sununu is slated to appear Thursday on ABC’s “The View.”

The Big Picture

Participants including Kevin Wilbur, front left, of Rochester, N.H. and his dog Minnie walk with others during the Hidden Battles Foundation's "22 for the 22" event on May 20, 2023. The event is designed to bring awareness to the 22 US veterans lost daily to suicide. Cheryl Senter for The Boston Globe

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Steven Porter can be reached at steven.porter@globe.com. Follow him @reporterporter.