Because Thursday, Chris Sununu was backpedaling like his life depended on it.
First, some important background.
Over the past year or so, Sununu has been praised in the political press for his occasional criticism of former President Donald Trump. And he has been touted as a potential 2024 presidential candidate who could challenge Trump’s status as the party’s standard-bearer. Most notably, he received a lot of favorable press when, during last year’s Gridiron Club dinner for Washington insiders, he quipped that Trump was “crazy” (using some colorful language).
“I don’t think he’s so crazy that you could put him in a mental institution,” he said, according to Politico. “But I think if he were in one, he ain’t getting out!”
Sununu soon said he had just been joking, and he has repeated that caveat several times since. But on Thursday, he took the backpedaling into overdrive.
During a CNN interview, Sununu vowed to support Trump should he win the Republican nomination for president next year. Sununu said whoever the Republican nominee is will be “better than any of the Democrats that would likely sit in that presidential seat.”
Asked about his having called Trump crazy, Sununu replied: “Yeah, that was funny. It was a roast! It was a funny joke!”
Of course, Sununu almost certainly knew at the time that Trump was likely to enter the 2024 race. And he was effectively telling eventual voters to look elsewhere.
That faint sound you hear in the distance is cries from Republicans who have enough sense to know Trump is absolutely toxic politically. Thoughts and prayers to them. Their supposed knight in shining armor has just bent the knee.
President Joe Biden will deliver his second State of the Union address on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET. Follow msnbc.com/sotu for live updates and analysis from experts and insiders.