MANCHESTER, N.H. – Sarah Manjarrez and her husband drove from New York City to New Hampshire to see President Trump in person.
Ahead of the president’s Friday night speech in the key battleground state — his first campaign event since his nomination acceptance address Thursday night capped this week’s Republican National Convention — Manjarrez pointed to the four-day affair as a potential game-changer in the 2020 presidential election.
THE POLL POSITION BETWEEN BIDEN AND TRUMP COMING OUT OF THE CONVENTIONS
“I think this is definitely going to sway some people,” she told Fox News hours before the president arrived.
She’s not alone among Trump supporters.
Marisa George, a young Trump campaign volunteer from nearby Salem, N.H., emphasized that “the convention usually always helps a candidate but this week the convention was very patriotic. They talked about everything from all he’s done for the Black community, women, and also hitting on how he’s helping the cities, so I think it will give him a boost.”
And George believes the president could get a bounce from the polls coming out the convention. She cited Trump’s law-and-order message amid a summer of unrest from coast to coast over police brutality against minorities and systemic racism. Trump and fellow Republicans have accused Democrats of ignoring the violence that’s flared in some cities where protests escalated into riots.
“He’s been encouraging different cities to let him call in the guard. He really wants to bring back law and order,” she noted. “A lot of people were calling in the last few nights saying they’re sick of all of the unrest and that the RNC has been convincing them to vote for Trump. I think if Trump keeps doing what he’s doing ‒ rally his base but also getting the moderates and the independents ‒ I think if he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’s got a great chance.”
One of the president’s goals was to use his convention nomination speech and the entire four-day convention to shake up a contest that has seen him for months trailing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in national public opinion polling and, more importantly, in key general election battlegrounds. The president is aiming for a reset in a race where his job combating the worst pandemic to strike the nation and the world in a century – and an economy severely deflated by the coronavirus – are top on the minds of voters.
TRUMP SPOTLIGHTS SECURITY, WARNS BIDEN WOULD END ‘AMERICAN GREATNESS,’ IN CONVENTION FINALE
Rayla Campbell made the drive from Randolph, Mass.
Campbell, a Trump supporter who is Black and who’s also running for Congress as a write-in candidate, predicted that coming out of the Democratic and Republican conventions “the people that were on the fence, a lot of them independents, I think they are going to go towards the Republican side and vote for the president because of what we stand for, because we’re just standing up there talking about American values.”
She stressed that the president and the GOP are “healing our people and healing our country, standing up together and not pushing people down. We don’t want to segregate. We’ve already done that. That’s what happens when you tear down history, you’re bound to repeat it. We’ve got to put the statues back up.”
Corinn Dahm of Berlin, Mass., noted that if people “watched the convention, they got a different message” about the president. She highlighted that due to the convention, “I think they will relate to him a lot more.”
Paul Senecal spent hours driving from Hyde Park, N.Y. The one-time independent said he just registered as a Republican “because Trump’s been doing the things he said he would do.”
New Hampshire was supposed to have been the site for Trump’s second rally — following Tulsa, Okla. — but it was canceled a day ahead of its scheduled July 11 date. At the time, the Trump campaign and White House blamed the cancellation on a tropical storm that ended up never impacting the airport at Portsmouth, where the rally was supposed to have been held. The president later acknowledged the rally was scrapped due to health concerns over large gatherings of people amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Attendees entering the event site on Friday had their temperatures checked, and masks were mandated. That’s a big switch from the previous night, when many in the crowd of nearly 2,000 packed into the White House South Lawn were not wearing masks as they watched the president’s convention address in person.
New Hampshire is the only remaining state in the region without a statewide mask mandate. But earlier this month Republican Gov. Chris Sununu did implement a mask mandate for any gathering with 100 or more people. The Trump campaign noted since formally announcing this event last weekend that masks would be required and would be provided to all attendees who didn’t have one.
George, the campaign volunteer, said that it appeared “everyone is fully willing to cooperate as long as it’s coming from the Trump campaign. They emphasized to us we all have to wear masks, so we’re all OK with it.”
Sununu – who’s running for reelection for a third two-year term steering New Hampshire, said this week that he’ll greet the president as he arrives at the airport, but that he would not be staying for the event. The Republican governor noted he’s been generally been taking precautions to avoid large crowds.
New Hampshire has held a special place in the president’s political history. After narrowly losing the Iowa caucuses four years ago, Trump won the New Hampshire primary in a landslide, launching him toward the GOP presidential nomination and, eventually, the White House.
Besides holding the first-in-the-nation presidential primary, New Hampshire for a generation has been a battleground state in the general election. Trump narrowly lost the state’s four electoral votes four years ago by fewer than 3,000 votes to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. New Hampshire is one of a handful of states Clinton narrowly captured that the Trump campaign’s hoping to flip from blue to red.
Trump campaign New Hampshire co-chair Fred Doucette told Fox News having the president in the state is a big boost.
“I think it’s a very big statement for him to show up here first after his acceptance speech,” the state representative from Salem emphasized. “It’s a loud statement that New Hampshire is that important.”
Biden hasn’t been in New Hampshire since February’s presidential primary. The former vice president announced on Thursday that he’d start resuming small scale in-person campaign events in key general election battleground states after Labor Day.
While a campaign stop in the Granite State by Biden or vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris would be warmly welcomed by Granite State Democrats, state Democratic Party communications director Holly Shulman emphasized that “what matters to voters in New Hampshire is will they have health after the election, will they have Social Security after the election, will they have access to reproductive health care after the election?”
She stressed that “the difference in this election and the issues and how much is at stake, that’s what energizing voters right now.”