In New Hampshire, Trump supporters shrug off legal woes

Despite intermittent downpours, supporters cued up for hours to attend Trump's rally at Windham High School. (Todd Bookman/NHPR)
Despite intermittent downpours, supporters cued up for hours to attend Trump's rally at Windham High School. (Todd Bookman/NHPR)

It seemed nearly every supporter who lined up in Windham for former President Donald Trump's latest rally in New Hampshire Tuesday had shrugged off his mounting legal troubles. If anything, they said, the charges have only solidified their support.

“He didn’t do anything. There’s no crime he’s done,” said Thomas Heath, of Auburn. “81 million that voted for him know that that election was stolen.”

Those claims — that the 2020 election was invalid and Trump won more support than what the actual vote totals showed — has been repeatedly disproven. But they've been a rallying cry for the former president and his supporters, and they're at the heart of the latest criminal case against Trump. Federal prosecutors allege he conspired to overturn the results of the election and obstruct the peaceful transfer of power, culminating in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Separately, Trump is also facing charges for his handling of confidential materials and campaign finance infractions. He’s pleaded not guilty, and has repeatedly claimed he is being targeted by his political rivals.

That’s the way Diane Bryson of New Boston sees it, too. Clad in a pink Trump hat, she said the recent indictments suggested to her a “two-tier” justice system, where Republicans are being held accountable for their alleged actions, but “if the Democrat does it, it’s OK.”

Nancy Voter of Salem, who acknowledged her last name was “apropos” for the setting, said she felt it was her duty to come show her support for Trump.

“He’s been railroaded since day one of his presidency,” she said before entering the venue. “I think it's criminal, and everything is upside down.”

This was Trump’s fourth appearance in New Hampshire since announcing his reelection bid. Recent polling shows the former president with a commanding grip on his party’s nomination, as challengers including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence, who both campaigned in New Hampshire last week, have struggled to gain traction. In the latest poll from the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, Trump held a 37% to 23% percent lead over DeSantis, with other candidates much farther behind.

Aside from their interest in vindication for the former president, others at the Windham rally voiced a range of concerns on more traditional policy priorities, including the economy, inflation and immigration. Susan Hurley Giacoppo of Pelham said President Joe Biden has mismanaged the country’s finances.

“It is so, so hard,” she said. “I work, my husband works, we have pretty decent jobs. And we still struggle sometimes.”

This story is a production of the New England News Collaborative. It was originally published by New Hampshire Public Radio.



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