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New Hampshire GOP Gov. Chris Sununu sat for an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Wednesday night. The topic of election denialism – specifically related to New Hampshire Republican Senate nominee Don Bolduc – came up. Here’s the exchange:

Tapper: Gov. Sununu, you’re a sane Republican at a time when a lot of people are looking for sane Republicans. Are you hurting the cause of sane Republicans when you embrace people like that?

Sununu: No, look, this is about having folks in Washington, DC, that put New Hampshire first. Was the election stolen? Of course it wasn’t stolen. That’s nonsense, absolute nonsense, and it’s great to see him actually backtrack on that. But that isn’t the issue folks are going to vote on. Mar-a-Lago is not the issue folks are going to vote on. The people vote in their own self-interest, as they should, right? We should be a little bit selfish with our vote.

What’s best for my family, what’s best for my business, my opportunities – that’s what a good vote is all about. And that’s why, again, Don Bolduc is going to win this race. You have to be present, you have to be in the state, you have to understand these issues and be willing to make tough decisions.”

Before I go any further, I want to go backwards – to what Bolduc, a retired Army brigadier general taking on Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan this November, has said about the 2020 election.

During a debate in August, Bolduc said this: “I signed a letter with 120 other generals and admirals saying that Donald Trump won the election and, damn it, I stand by [it].”

Then, days after winning the Republican Senate primary in September, Bolduc changed his tune. “I’ve done a lot of research on this, and I’ve spent the past couple of weeks talking to Granite Staters all over the state from every party, and I have come to the conclusion – and I want to be definitive on this – the election was not stolen,” he said.

But wait, there’s more! Earlier this month, asked by a voter about the 2020 election, Bolduc said: “I can’t say that it was stolen or not. I don’t have enough information.”

Bolduc told CNN in an interview after the town hall that the election was “not stolen” but said that there were “irregularities and fraud.”

It has been a journey! But where Bolduc appears to have landed is on the notion that it’s still possible the 2020 election was fraudulent, which it was not.

Now back to Sununu. Although he and Bolduc have had their differences – Bolduc has called Sununu a “Chinese communist sympathizer” and a “globalist world-government guy,” while Sununu has called Bolduc a “conspiracy theory extremist” – Sununu is now supporting him out of a sense, it seems, of party loyalty. Yeah, they don’t see the world exactly the same way, but they’re both Republicans, so it just makes sense that Sununu would support Bolduc.

But there’s an elision of logic inherent in that compromise that is dangerous.

One of them believes – or is at least willing to keep open the option – that, contrary to all of the evidence, that there was fraud in the 2020 election. This isn’t a policy disagreement. This is about the very bones of our democracy, the notion that we hold free and fair elections – whether or not the candidate you supported winds up winning.

Sununu isn’t the only Republican leader making this same sort of mistake.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Wednesday campaigned for Arizona gubernatorial nominee – and prominent election denier – Kari Lake. Of his decision, Youngkin said last month: “I am comfortable supporting Republican candidates, and we don’t agree on everything. I mean, I have said that I firmly believe that Joe Biden was elected president.”

Again, this isn’t just a disagreement over some policy plank. The issue here is whether the 2020 election was free and fair. You can’t just yada-yada the notion that someone you are endorsing for high office actually believes that the last election was stolen!

By casting election denialism as just another policy position, the likes of Youngkin and Sununu – both of whom have national ambitions of their own – are trying to put a Band-Aid on a gaping wound. If you don’t believe in the fundamental tenets of democracy that have been followed since the founding of the country, all the other stuff doesn’t really matter.

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