MANCHESTER, NH — President Donald J. Trump took center stage Monday night, the eve of the New Hampshire Primary, stealing attention away from the Democratic field of presidential contenders.
“With your help on Nov. 3, we are going to defeat the radical, socialist Democrats. We are going to win New Hampshire by a landslide,” he said, addressing a capacity crowd of supporters inside the SNHU Arena in downtown Manchester. Outside, an overflow crowd of people lined the sidewalks along Elm Street watching him deliver his speech on a jumbotron.
The arena holds about 11,700 people.
It was the first rally since the U.S. Senate acquitted him last Wednesday on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress at his impeachment trial.
Last Tuesday he gave his State of the Union address at the end of which Speaker Nancy Pelosi tore up his speech.
“I’m speaking and a woman is mumbling terribly behind me, angry,” he said, a reference to Pelosi. “We’re the ones who should be angry.”
The following day, he said, “our good Republicans voted to reject the outrageous partisan impeachment hoax” and issued an “absolute acquittal.”
He credited Pelosi and the impeachment trial for his increasing poll numbers. “Thank you, Nancy,” he said to the crowd’s cheers.
Trump also suggested that Republicans could try to influence the Democratic outcome in Tuesday’s election because New Hampshire has an open primary.
“A lot of Republicans tomorrow will vote for the weakest candidate,” Mr. Trump said. “My only problem is I’m trying to figure out who is the weakest candidate. I think they’re all weak.”
According to the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Office, a voter who is undeclared can request either a Republican or Democratic ballot. The last day a registered voter could change his party affiliation before the 2020 presidential primary was October 25, 2019.
And the president claimed that in the 2016 New Hampshire Primary Democrats bussed in voters from Massachusetts, something that has been disputed by Granite State officials.
“We should have won the election,” Mr. Trump said. “But they had buses being shipped up from Massachusetts hundreds and hundreds of us and it was very, very close even though they did.”
His speech drew thunderous applause at times and boos at the mention of Sen. Mitt Romney, who joined Democrats in voting in favor of impeachment on one charge.
Prior to the president’s arrival, DeeDee Dorrington and Kelley Sardine, both of Billerica, Mass. danced and waved signs (Dorrington’s was “Women for Trump” while Sardine’s said “Promises Made” on one side, “Promises Kept” on the other).
“We love him,” said Dorrington.
Kelly Dube of Berlin, NH, and her husband drove close to three hours to make the rally.
Dube, the mother of five, said in 2016 she was a Bernie Sanders supporter. Now, she is solidly in Trump’s camp. The candidates are polar opposites, she acknowledges.
She said though that she and her family are better off today than three years ago.
“In 2016, I was feeling the Bern, but I don’t really know why,” Dube said.
“When the DNC totally screwed him out of the nomination and gave it to Hillary, I wasn’t going to vote. I wasn’t going to give it to her.”
And she said she wasn’t going to vote for Trump either because she was believing what the media was saying about him.
“Once Trump was elected, people said the country was going to hell,” said Dube, who works at home for a company as a medical transcriptionist.
“Things just got better,” she said. “The economy is better. We’re better off financially. Between the tax cuts for the families – we have five kids – just that alone helps us immensely. And then you see the minority unemployment helping all the people who are supposed to be helped by welfare benefits and they’re doing better than ever. The proof is in the pudding. He’s proved himself to me.”
Sue McNulla of Windham said Trump could be her twin.
“I love him,” she said. She said she wants to say everything he does.
Outside the arena, vendors hawked their wares.
Alan Hoffsten of Leland, N.C., has been selling Trump memorabilia year-round since 2016. He parked his Women for Trump decorated RV next to the SNHU arena on Elm Street
“People are buying this stuff year-round, “ he said.
The last week in June, Hoffsten said he set up in Mayfaire, N.C., which he said is known as a liberal area, and he said he made “six grand the last weekend in June. No rally. No nothing. Everyone just loves this man.”
Trump is his man too. “I’m a capitalist.”
Vice President Mike Pence preceded the president. Also on hand at the rally were Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Rick Scott of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky, who on Tuesday will be heading to the polls to greet voters.