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Former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu (left), one of the most influential politicians in the lead presidential primary state, will endorse Mitt Romney tomorrow. Here he speaks last month with Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.
Former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu (left), one of the most influential politicians in the lead presidential primary state, will endorse Mitt Romney tomorrow. Here he speaks last month with Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.Jim Cole/AP

Former New Hampshire Governor John H. Sununu will endorse Mitt Romney today, aiming to boost the Republican presidential candidate’s momentum in the lead presidential primary state.

Sununu told the Globe that three things made up his mind: Romney’s commitment to cutting spending and cutting taxes; his decision to keep Massachusetts out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which would have instituted a cap and trade policy for greenhouse gasses; and his speech at the Citadel in South Carolina on foreign policy, where Romney talked about strengthening America’s military.

Romney and Sununu at a 2005 N.H. event.
Romney and Sununu at a 2005 N.H. event.AP File Photo/Associated Press

“We’ve basically depleted our assets in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Sununu said. “If we want to maintain our role as trying to stabilize the world, we have to have our strength. No other candidate has really talked about that.”

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Sununu served three terms as New Hampshire governor in the 1980s and was White House chief of staff under President George H.W. Bush.

He took over as chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party in 2009, and stayed on through the 2010 elections, when Republicans won all the open congressional seats and took control of the state Legislature.

Sununu is considered one of the most influential voices in New Hampshire politics. His son, former US Senator John E. Sununu, writes regularly for the Globe’s op-ed page.

The endorsement will be made at a rally outside the State House in Concord, N.H., where Sununu once worked and where Romney will file his paperwork to become an official presidential candidate.

The New Hampshire Union Leader first reported Sununu’s endorsement decision.

The Romney campaign said Sununu will serve as chairman of Romney’s national steering committee.

“I am deeply appreciative of Governor Sununu’s friendship and support,” Romney said in a statement. “Governor Sununu is one of the most respected public servants in New Hampshire and he has stood for the values that are important to Granite Staters: hard work, individualism, and fiscal responsibility. His advice and counsel will be important as I work to earn support from voters in the Granite State and work to fix our troubled economy.”

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Sununu told the Globe last week that he had narrowed his choices down to Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry, because he believed someone with chief executive experience as a governor would be best suited for the presidency.

Sununu said his final decision was not intended as a slight to Perry. Romney said he believes Perry would make a good president, “but you have to choose between friends in a primary.”

Nonetheless, Sununu remained neutral during the 2008 presidential primary. Sununu’s relationship with Romney stems from Sununu’s time as party chairman.

During the 2010 election cycle, while Sununu was running the state party, Romney held two fund-raisers for the New Hampshire Republican Party and a fund-raiser for a political action committee aimed at electing Republicans to the New Hampshire House.

Romney donated $40,000 from his own political action committee to the state party; gave $1,000 to each Republican state senate nominee; and gave the maximum donations allowable by federal law to the campaigns of Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte, Congressmen Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass and gubernatorial candidate John Stephen.

Romney was also the keynote speaker at the 2010 Republican State Party convention. Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams was the spokesman for the state Republican Party under Sununu.

According to Williams, Romney and Sununu met several times in New Hampshire and talked on the phone.

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Romney is leading in all the New Hampshire polls and has been sweeping up endorsements from powerful Granite Staters. He recently announced the endorsement of former US Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, along with seven state senators and 35 state representatives.

Romney, who has a summer home in Wolfeboro, has also spent a lot of time campaigning in New Hampshire. Most recently, he visited his New Hampshire campaign headquarters yesterday and plans to hold the rally with supporters tomorrow.


Schoenberg can be reached at sschoenberg@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shiraschoenberg.