The most memorable line of Trump’s latest visit to the Granite State will likely be his quip about House Republicans and Jesus Christ. The most historic moment was certainly when he became the first former or sitting president to personally appear at the secretary of state’s office and file his paperwork for the First in the Nation primary ballot.
But if Trump does become just the second president in U.S. history to win two nonconsecutive terms, the most important part of his Granite State stop on Monday may be his newly-tooled stump speech. Buried amid his 90-plus minutes of one-liners, indulgent “indictment” rants and lame nicknames was a carefully crafted message hitting Joe Biden hard over the incumbent president’s biggest weakness.
The irony of Trump’s 2024 campaign is that the ultimate “chaos” candidate is benefitting from the politics of chaos around the globe. Choosing Trump as the answer to your chaos problem may feel like picking Jose Cuervo to solve your alcohol problem, but Trump has the advantage of being able to campaign on Biden’s record: The disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, Putin’s attack on Ukraine, Chinese spy balloons in U.S. skies, and the worst one-day death toll for Jews since the Holocaust — all on Biden’s watch.
Add in the inflation explosion, the massive federal debt, record-setting illegal immigration, and the spike in crime, and you don’t need to don a MAGA hat to admit Trump’s got a case to make. And the case he made in Derry, N.H., on Monday has the potential to resonate with voters beyond his GOP base.
“Crooked Joe can’t even walk up the children’s stairs of Air Force One or find his way off a stage after making a so-called speech—yet he’s just inches away from stumbling this country into World War Three,” Trump said. “To every American who is terrified that Crooked Joe’s weakness will cause catastrophic global conflict, I make you this promise: As your president, I will restore peace through strength — and I will prevent World War Three.”
And while Trump is hardly beloved by America’s neocons, he made a case for confronting Iran that could have come from the pages of Commentary magazine.
“Joe Biden caused the attack on Israel,” Trump said, laying out the case that the Biden administration allowed billions in new oil revenues to flow to the Islamic Republic.
“When I came into office, Iran had $70 billion dollars in foreign exchange reserves, its piggy bank for terrorists. By the time I left, they had nothing. They were broke –—the Iranian regime could barely afford to keep the lights on,” Trump said.
“Sadly, Crooked Joe surrendered my tough sanctions. Iran now once again has over $70 billion dollars to finance terror, and Israel is paying the price in blood.”
Trump’s claim is backed up by the data. Iranian oil exports have risen on Biden’s watch from nearly zero to an expected 3.4 million barrels daily, according to Iran’s oil minister. The Wall Street Journal reported the Biden administration’s lack of sanctions enforcement resulted in $30 billion to $40 billion in oil revenue to Iran this year alone.
Trump’s stump speech didn’t delve too deeply into the details, but it hit hard on the politics.
“Crooked Joe … attacked American energy while he unleashed Iranian energy. He funded Hamas and Hezbollah abroad while he launched a war on patriotic citizens at home,” Trump said. “Joe Biden has been a nightmare for Israelis and for Americans, but Crooked Joe has been a dream president for radical Islamic terrorists.”
The crowd gave Trump a round of applause or two on this topic, but nothing like the enthusiastic cheers he got when he pledged to strip schools of federal funding if they imposed vaccine mandates, or his promise to “keep men out of women’s sports.”
But that’s not necessarily bad news. The challenge for Trump is finding a way for the most unpopular politician in modern American history to bring more voters on board. His complaints about “bullsh*t indictments” or claims the 2020 election was stolen aren’t likely to do it.
But the simple message that “Biden is weak and I am strong, and our enemies know it” has the capacity to appeal to Trump-reluctant suburban voters, like the “security moms” who helped George W. Bush win a second term.
Biden’s going to fight back, of course. There had been speculation Biden might get a bounce out of the Hamas attack on Israel. He’s spoken out firmly on Israel’s behalf and has traveled to the war-torn country.
But a new Suffolk University/USA Today poll released Monday found Biden’s support down to 37 percent, tied with Trump. Two previous national polls, Harvard-Harris and Emerson, give Trump a narrow lead over Biden. A new Bloomberg/Morning Consult poll of swing states gave Trump the lead in Georgia, Arizona, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania and tied in Michigan.
Sources close to the Trump campaign told NHJournal Monday they feel very confident about what they’re seeing in the swing states that will determine who wins the White House. Pundits who expected Trump to simply double down on his base and hope for the best appear to be mistaken.
Trump’s messaging also makes it harder for his GOP opponents to convince Republican primary voters that he can’t win a general election. And it’s worth noting Trump spent very little time attacking Gov. Ron DeSantis or former Gov. Nikki Haley, the two Republicans who are leading the rest of the primary pack. He’s already running like a general election candidate.
While Trump was dropping off his check with New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan, Trump was peppered with questions about the inability of House Republicans to choose a speaker.
“There’s only one person that can do it all the way. You know who that is? Jesus Christ,” Trump said. “If Jesus came down and said ‘I want to be speaker,’ he would do it.”
Given the current status of the race, He may also be the only person who could beat Trump in the New Hampshire primary.