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Down In The Polls But Hoping To Reignite The Magic Of 2016, Trump Returns To N.H.05:53
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President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally on Oct. 25, 2020 in Londonderry, New Hampshire. President Trump continues to campaign ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally on Oct. 25, 2020 in Londonderry, New Hampshire. President Trump continues to campaign ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

For the second time since winning the Republican nomination, President Trump campaigned in New Hampshire, rallying the faithful who filled up a hangar at the edge of Manchester Airport in Londonderry on Sunday.

As he trails former Vice President Joe Biden in the polls, Trump is trying to build momentum in a number of swing states, with just over a week to go before the general election.

"Nine days from now we are going to win this state," Trump told the cheering crowd. "Can you believe — nine days? And we're going to win four more great years in the White House. We're going to keep it going."

It was a classic Trump rally, featuring a 90-minute free-flowing, stream-of-consciousness address by the president, who pivoted from self-congratulations to a long discourse on the beauty and cost of Air Force One.

Trump also touched on the pandemic, repeating his claim that the health crisis is under control; that the nation is "turning the corner," even as infections continue to climb to record levels. The president repeated his assertion that case numbers are rising because of increased testing, a theory that has been largely debunked by the medical community.

"Because that's all we do — is test," the president said. "If we cut our testing down in half they'd say — well, they wouldn't say that — but cases would go down."

Trump speaks during a rally on Oct. 25, 2020 in Londonderry. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Trump speaks during a rally on Oct. 25, 2020 in Londonderry. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

The president also continued to sow doubts about the integrity of the coming election, claiming that the biggest risk is "fake ballots," though voter fraud has proved rare.

"It's going to be a very interesting evening on November 3rd," Trump said.

To win re-election, he must hold on to most of the states he won in 2016, which include Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. But with polls favoring Biden in several of the key battlegrounds, Trump is hoping to expand the number of states in play, which brought him back to New Hampshire — the state that delivered his first primary victory in 2016, igniting his bid for the White House.

He narrowly lost the state in the general election to Democrat Hillary Clinton, but he hopes a victory in the Granite State could help him cobble together the 270 electoral votes that he needs to win re-election.

Trump is counting on supporters like Norm Dion, of Bedford, who said the president was doing a good job managing the economy before the pandemic hit.

"Every place you looked, there were help wanted signs," Dion said. "I always said it would take a businessman to run this country right."

According to polls, most Americans believe Trump has done a poor job managing the pandemic, which has killed more than 220,000 people. But Dion is not among those who blame the president.

A supporter of President Trump raises his arms during the campaign rally. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
A supporter of President Trump raises his arms during the campaign rally. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

"People are making it sound like he caused it," he said. "And he didn't"

But even as Trump attracts large, enthusiastic crowds, as he did Sunday in Londonderry, polls suggest that he faces a challenge in New Hampshire. Unlike four years ago, he is longer the insurgent; the nation is struggling with a deep recession and the pandemic.

At the same time, his support among suburban, female and older voters has eroded across many of the swing states, including New Hampshire.

"Donald Trump is not popular in the state," said Andy Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. "He's losing in our most recent polls by about 10% to Joe Biden, and that's going to determine who shows up to vote, and it's going to hurt Republicans down the ticket."

Smith said the one Republican who's likely to do well in New Hampshire on Nov. 3 is Gov. Chris Sununu, who remains very popular in the state.

But the last four polls out of the state show Trump trailing Biden by as much as 12 points. So, it's far from certain that New Hampshire, a state that has been trending increasingly Democratic in recent years, is going to help the president win re-election.

This segment aired on October 26, 2020.

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Anthony Brooks Twitter Senior Political Reporter
Anthony Brooks is WBUR's senior political reporter.

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