New Hampshire GOP at odds over endorsing Trump in 2020, says veteran political reporter

Veteran political reporter Paul Steinhauser said Monday that there’s a political battle brewing among New Hampshire Republicans over endorsing President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats claim victory as Trump gets battered in court Juan Williams: Anti-abortion extremism is on the rise Trump feels squeeze in tax return fight MORE in the 2020 presidential election.

Trump supporters in the state are trying to repeal the state’s decades-old neutrality clause that keeps both parties neutral during the primaries, but Steinhauser argues that not all Republican leaders are supportive of the effort.

“There are a lot of Republicans up here that are nervous if the neutrality clause is gotten rid of — it’s repealed — and that if the state party does back a president in the primary, they’re very worried that New Hampshire could lose it’s very cherished for 100 years, first-in-the-nation primary status,” he told Hill.TV’s Jamal Simmons.

Steinhauser added that there’s a lot of money at stake in New Hampshire for keeping the primaries competitive, saying the Granite State remains an important stop for presidential hopefuls on their way to the White House.

“Having New Hampshire first is something that is jealously guarded up here, and one of the reasons why…is financial,” he said. “All of the campaigns come up here, they spend a lot of money in this state, it gets a lot of notoriety — it’s a very small state,” he said.

Steinhauser’s comments come after news that Windham New Hampshire Selectmen Bruce Breton along with state Rep. Fred Doucette (R) plan on introducing an amendment to change the GOP’s by-laws that keep the state party neutral in primaries. This would include the state’s prized first-in-the-nation presidential primary.

Doucette, who served as a state co-chair of the 2016 Trump campaign, told the Concord Monitor it “just makes sense” for the state Republican Party to back President Trump, “who’s the head of our party.”

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu disagrees.

Sununu issued a statement arguing that the New Hampshire State Republican Committee must remain neutral. He has also warned that getting rid of the neutrality clause and choosing sides is "never a good process."  

“When you have folks in leadership positions of the party taking sides — incumbent or not incumbent — picking winners and losers in the primary, that’s never a good process, we saw that a lot on the national scale 2016, it’s nothing that we want to happen here in this state,” he told Steinhauser. 

But Sununu said he remains “very, very confident” that the potential amendment will be either withdrawn or defeated.

New Hampshire isn't the only state looking to protect Trump from potential challengers. 

The Republican Party in South Carolina is weighing whether to cancel its presidential nominating contest in 2020 in order to safeguard Trump's nomination for re-election, according to the Washington Examiner

The chairman of the South Carolina GOP told the Examiner that the GOP party would do "what's in the president's best interest."

Despite Trump's high approval rating among the Republican base, the president could still face a challenge from his own party. 

Several Republicans, including outgoing Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeSen. Coons examines Amazon's privacy and data security practices for Alexa devices Oil companies join blitz for carbon tax The Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget MORE (R-Ariz.) and Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerJeff Daniels blasts 'cowardice' of Senate Republicans against Trump Corker: 'I just don't' see path to challenge Trump in 2020 Ex-GOP Sen. Corker: Trump primary would be 'good thing for our country' MORE (R-Tenn.), have each suggested that they haven't ruled out a presidential bid, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) said he is "seriously considering" a White House bid in 2020.

—Tess Bonn