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Governors Tout Bipartisanship as Key to Solving Problems

Published Thursday Sep 14, 2023

Author Rick Green, Keene Sentinel

gov sununu

The National Governors Association held the first in a series of bipartisan events Tuesday at Southern New Hampshire University onthe theme “disagree better. (Rick Green/Sentinel Staff)

MANCHESTER – Chris Sununu and other governors urged Tuesday that elected officials from both political parties seek common ground and engage in civil discourse to end partisan gridlock across a variety of issues.

The National Governors Association held the first in a series of bipartisan events Tuesday at Southern New Hampshire University onthe theme “disagree better.”

“There is a path here, there is hope, there is optimism that folks can really bring it together,” Sununu, a Republican, said at an afternoon media availability. “We’re talking about accountability, a government that works, results-driven, bringing everyone to the table, sharing ideas.”

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican who is chairman of the association, said immigration is a divisive issue but one where there should actually be common ground across the political spectrum.

“Most Democrats believe we should secure the border and most Republicans believe we should fix legal immigration,” he said. “Now you won’t hear that from the politicians because they love to fundraise.

“Let’s put aside the areas where we do not agree. Let’s see if there are some areas where we do agree. Let’s start there.”

bipartisan summit

From left: Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah and Gov. Janet Mills of Maine. (Rick Green/Sentinel Staff)

The gathering, which included several governors, came as highly partisan events played out on Capitol Hill.

Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Tuesday he was directing the opening of an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden over his family’s business dealings.

Meanwhile, far-right Republicans are threatening to oust McCarthy from the speaker’s job if he doesn’t back their demands for deep spending cuts that could force a government shutdown.

Cox was dismissive of congressional activities that he said were aimed more at getting attention than helping people.

“I think most of what Congress does is ridiculous,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of showmanship. There is a sense that if you are extreme, if you are out there, you get the clicks, you get the media attention, you get the quotes on cable news. I don’t know how any of that is solving the problems of this country.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, urged lawmakers in Washington to find a way to avert a government shutdown.

“Please God let’s figure out a way forward that is the middle ground that we’ve been espousing that appeals to the broad sensibilities of Americans who want to see this country move forward, get better and provide opportunity for their kids.”

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who worked under Republican President George W. Bush and Democratic President Barack Obama spoke to the group through video.

Gates said polarization has created a kind of political paralysis at a time of great challenges abroad, including the growing alliance between Russia and China.

He said that in the past, there was often bipartisan support for U.S. foreign policy, but now people around the world wonder whether a change in the political party of the president will lead to major international policy changes. 

“The question is whether President Biden’s policy of strengthening alliances and engagement around the world is a one-off, or is President Trump’s ‘America First,’ more-isolationist agenda going to be the dominant theme in the future?” Gates said.

“The truth is, nobody in the world knows.”

Gates said much could be achieved if political leaders set an example by dealing with each other respectfully despite their differences.

He urged: 

“Stop this business of calling the person you disagree with your enemy or somebody who is out to destroy America.”  

Rick Green can be reached at or 603-355-8567

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