Donald Trump returns to the campaign trail in first presidential primary state of New Hampshire

Published: Aug. 9, 2023 at 7:02 AM EDT
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WINDHAM, N.H. (WMTW) - The 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, resumed campaigning in the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire on Tuesday, competing for next year’s Republican presidential nomination, and accused President Biden of ordering his Attorney General to bring federal charges against him, because, he said, Trump is leading Biden in polls over a hypothetical rematch in 2024.

Trump said, “There is more enthusiasm today than we ever had in 2016 or 2020, and the reason is, because these people are so corrupt, and they’re so horrible, they’re so incompetent.”

Trump’s mid-afternoon rally, attended by several hundred supporters in a hot Windham High School gym, 10 miles from Nashua, the state’s second most populous city, was his first in the state since appearing in Washington federal court last week to be arraigned on felony charges related to the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot.

Dozens of supporters were lined up at 8:30 a.m., waiting in the rain, six hours ahead of the 2:30 p.m. event. Many wore red Make America Great Again baseball hats with “45-47″ on the side. (Biden is the nation’s 46th president).

Over the weekend, Trump campaigned in Alabama and in South Carolina, the first southern primary state, defiant over this third criminal indictment since leaving office, reiterating Tuesday that each indictment had strengthened support for his campaign.

Trump said, “How can my corrupt political opponent, Crooked Joe Biden, put me on trial during an election campaign that I’m winning by a lot, but forcing me nevertheless to spend time and money away from the campaign trail in order to fight bogus, made-up accusations, since that’s what they’re doing. ‘I’m sorry, I won’t be able to go Iowa today. I won’t be able to go to New Hampshire today, because I am sitting in a courtroom on bull****, because his attorney general charged me or something.’”

Trump accused the Biden administration of “weaponizing” the Justice Department to derail his 2024 comeback, by charging him for attempting to block the peaceful transfer of power, in Washington, in 2021, and for mishandling classified documents, in Florida, since leaving office.

However, both federal cases were brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith, who was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland.

One of the other criminal cases, for misappropriation of business funds to pay hush money to a pornographic film actress who says she had an fling with Trump, is pending in New York state court, while a fourth potential indictment, also related to overturning the 2020 election, is pending in Georgia state court.

On Tuesday, Trump announced the formation of a New Hampshire “Veterans for Trump Coalition,” with support for 120 military veterans.

His campaign said his reforms as president made the Department of Veterans Affairs more “responsive and efficient,” while allowing 2.4 million veterans to see their local doctor when they live too far from a VA facility or the wait for an appointment is too long.

“Joe Biden puts bureaucrats first. I put veterans first, and I put America first,” Trump said at his rally. “I will once again make stopping veteran suicide a top priority of my administration.”

Trump promised a new “state-of-the-art” VA hospital in New Hampshire and to restore the ban on transgender individuals serving in the military.

If returned to the White House, Trump said, “On day one, I will sign an executive order to cut off Joe Biden’s massive spigot of funding for the shelter and transport of illegal aliens, which are country can’t handle, and I will redirect that money to provide shelter and treatment for homeless American veterans.”

“When President Donald Trump was Commander-in-Chief, our nation’s veterans had a leader fighting to ensure that their service and sacrifices to our country were honored,” John Coughlin, a Marine and Co-Chair of New Hampshire Veterans for Trump, said in a written statement. “President Trump has always been a champion for the men and women who served our nation by ensuring they received great care, benefits, and jobs. He held corrupt government bureaucrats accountable for their lack of care and made sure the VA was treating veterans with honor and dignity.”

Trump also criticized the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan two years ago.

“Under my leadership, we were leaving with dignity and strength,” Trump said of the deal developed by negotiations with the Taliban, the Islamic extremists who eventually took control of the country. He said the plan, under Biden, resulted in “surrender and humiliation.”

Trump said, “When I return to the White House, we will restore peace through strength. That’s what we had.”

Since becoming the first Republican to launch his 2024 campaign almost 10 months ago, Trump has made five trips New Hampshire, including Tuesday’s visit and a CNN Town Hall in May.

His events are different than his rivals – no intimate setting, no questions from voters – just large rallies where he speaks for 60 to 90 minutes. He did not take questions from reporters on Tuesday.

Trump’s return New Hampshire came as 69% of self-identifying Republican or Republican-leaning voters nationwide said in a CNN poll they don’t believe Biden was legitimately elected; they believe Trump’s evidence-free lies that the election was “stolen” from him, which incited the Capitol riot.

“A rigged election,” Trump reiterated on Tuesday.

Trump’s leading rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, said over the weekend, “Of course, he lost.”

No Republican candidate – not DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Governor and Trump advisor Chris Christie, former South Carolina Governor and Trump UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson -- has been able to significantly close the gap with Trump in early primary opinion polls.

But there’s still six months before anyone votes.

Overall, only 41% of all voters nationwide said in the CNN poll they approve of President Biden’s job performance.

Biden asserted during his July 28 visit to Maine that his economic record (“Bidenomics”) is better than Trump’s, for example, with more jobs having been created since he took office than in Trump’s term.

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley said ahead of Trump’s visit in a written statement: “It’s pretty poetic that Donald Trump, who famously presided over the worst jobs record since the Great Depression, is visiting during the same week we’re celebrating President Biden’s accomplishments that Donald Trump can only dream of. While Granite Staters celebrate the Inflation Reduction Act, bringing manufacturing jobs back to America, and capping prescription drug costs for seniors on Medicare, what does Trump have to show for himself? A tax law that created new incentives to ship manufacturing jobs overseas, repeated attempts to gut Granite Staters’ Social Security and Medicare, and a dangerous anti-abortion record that he’s itching to parlay into a national abortion ban if he’s elected. With a platform like that, it’s no wonder New Hampshire rejected Donald Trump twice.”