Potential GOP candidates test waters at Iowa Freedom Summit

Reaction from former Sen. Sununu


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," January 26, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, now to Iowa, where we just saw a different kind of storm.


SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS: We need to bring together a coalition of Americans who want to believe again.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-N.J.: It is time for us to stand up and fight together for the country that we were given, for the country we believe in.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER, R-WIS.: The measure of success in government is how many people are no longer dependent on the government.


NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, so, lots of potential GOP presidential candidates in Iowa this past weekend for a conservative powwow.

But two very big names were not in that powwow mix, Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush.

New Hampshire's former Republican Senator John Sununu says that won't be a problem for him.

Senator, good to have you back with us.

Why not?


CAVUTO: Do Iowans take a slight to that and say, hey, where were you on our big powwow?

SUNUNU: I don't think so. I don't think so.

Look, you have heard the saying before -- and it's true -- in Iowa, they pick corn. Here in New Hampshire, we pick presidents. It is early. This is maybe a little bit more important for some of the names, like a Scott Walker.

CAVUTO: But Iowa did pick the last president, right? But Iowa did pick the last president.

SUNUNU: What's that?

CAVUTO: Iowa did pick the last president, right?

SUNUNU: Well, look, historically, the Iowa caucuses have not had the same impact that the New Hampshire primary has.

But, look, let's put that aside.

CAVUTO: Right.

SUNUNU: It's early.

If you're Romney or you're Bush, you have name I.D., you have fund-raising organization. You really don't need to be running to every event that lets candidates speak for five minutes or for 20 minutes, for that matter. This was more an opportunity for those candidates like a Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, that aren't household names, that are trying to define their own message and build a little bit of a national following.

CAVUTO: Then how do you explain Chris Christie being there?

SUNUNU: Well, think he knows he has a lot of work to do.

Let's face it. His approval ratings in his own state aren't as strong as they once were. I think there's no question his relationship with the -- President Obama has hurt him among some conservative Republicans. So, this is a chance for him to test his message among a more conservative group of Republican primary voters.

CAVUTO: You know, obviously, your name is steeped in family mainstream Republican tradition, your dad, of course.

And I'm thinking that maybe does that bias you a little bit, or are you chagrined by people who listen to you, Senator, and say, oh, no, not another RINO espousing the virtue of RINOs, especially two who weren't there? What do you say?

SUNUNU: Well, first of all, as you know, I had a very -- fiscally very conservative voting record in both the House and the Senate. I'm a conservative.

I don't have an axe to grind. I'm not supporting any candidate. I'm trying to give you and the viewers a sense of the dynamics of these events, right? Does this event in Iowa make a big difference for the candidates generally? No.

It certainly won't hurt Romney or Bush not to be there. But I do think it's an opportunity for the candidates I mentioned, those that are lesser known...

CAVUTO: Right.

SUNUNU: ... to get out there and define themselves.

And, for example, in the Senate, where you have Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio all interested, the fact of the matter is, only one U.S. senator is probably going to break out of the pack and really give the front-runners a run for their money.

So, they need to start early. They need to define themselves in a different way from their colleagues in the Senate. In the same way, you have got sitting governors, John Kasich, Scott Walker, Chris Christie.

And the fact of the matter is, all three of them can't at the end of the day be three leading candidates. That's just not how the primary cycle works.

CAVUTO: All right.

SUNUNU: So each of them need to get out, work hard, and start defining their message and find out whether they have what it takes to connect with the American people and whether they have a message that is really going to

resonate with people in 2016.

CAVUTO: We will watch closely, Senator. Good seeing you again.

SUNUNU: Great to be with you, Neil.

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