MANCHESTER, N.H. — Donald Trump’s raucous campaign rally on the eve of the New Hampshire primary was an example of winning by just showing up. His beleaguered supporters in deep-blue New England were thrilled to don their bright red #MAGA hats and show their support, while the Democrats desperately crossing the Granite State in search of votes were forced to deal with his presence.
Shutting down Manchester’s main intersection and sucking up the media coverage was a Trump strategy designed to mess with the Democrats as much as it was to motivate New Hampshire Republicans.
“That’s what we love about him,” said Cathy Labadie of Keene, N.H. “Trump knows how to run his mouth and he puts people in their place — and he just rocks!”
The rally was designed to give Trump supporters like Labadie exactly what they wanted: Pure, political trolling.
It started with national chairwoman of the Trump Victory Finance Committee Kimberly Gilfoyle, one of Trump’s opening acts of the night. “When I look at this amazing crowd, you know what I see? Four. More. YEARS!” As the crowd joined in the chant, Gilfoyle added, “That’ll get ‘em triggered real quick, won’t it?”
She followed up by introducing President Trump’s son by saying “Nobody triggers the leftist snowflakes like Donald Trump, Jr.”
And Don, Jr. delivered. After talking about the “Biden Crime Family,” he asked “What would the media say if Donald Trump, Jr. was making $83,000 a year from a corrupt Ukrainian oil company? You think they’d have a problem with that?”
“I want that gig,” he added. “In my next life, I want to come back as the son of a Democrat because you can do anything you want!” The spirit of snark was so strong it even caught up notorious nice guy Mike Pence.
“On Friday, while Democrats were still counting votes, we were counting 225,000 new jobs created in January,” the Vice President said. “Last week, President Donald Trump was acquitted forever. [Impeachment] is over, New Hampshire. And support for the president has never been stronger!”
That’s certainly true among Granite State Republicans. More than 90 percent of them tell University of New Hampshire pollsters they plan to support Trump in their party’s primary. Trump is enjoying similar levels of support from Republicans across the country.
Trump’s speech was, for a Trump rally, relatively subdued. He threw in a few gratuitous “Crazy Bernies” about Sen. Sanders and socialized medicine and took a swipe at Sen. Mitt Romney (Mitt’s name alone inspired the loudest booing of the night), but Trump didn’t go over the top. And he scored a point or two off the Democrats’ struggles in Iowa.
“They’re trying to take it [the nomination] away from Bernie again. The Democrats want to run your healthcare but they can’t even run a caucus in Iowa,” Trump said. “By the way, it’s been a week — does anybody know who won the Iowa Caucus?”
But rather than descend into nonstop name-calling, it was one of his more disciplined performances. He even wrapped up on time: 8:01pm. Trump worked the room like a good talk radio host — edgy enough to keep the crowd engaged, but careful not to cross the line.
Instead of blasting his opponents, Trump kept it light, stayed on message and reminded conservatives and Republicans about what they like: His pro-life stance, his federal judges, his push for de-regulation, and his support for the Second Amendment.
But mostly Trump showed the crowd that he’s ready for a fight and he’s not interested in backing down. And he absolutely plans to win the Granite State.
“With your help, we are going to beat the radical socialist Democrats and win New Hampshire in a landslide.”
His supporters believe it.
“Who’s gonna win the general election? Trump— no doubt about it,” said Ken Cail of Concord, N.H. “The Democrats have shot themselves in the foot. They’re their own worst enemies.”
Michael Graham is politics editor for InsideSources.com.