A capacity crowd at a local vineyard forced campaign organizers for GOP primary frontrunner Donald Trump to turn away dozens of would-be attendees, even though the former commander-in-chief never made an appearance.
The main attraction was his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., who arrived at Fulchino Vineyard to a hero’s welcome and told the throng of his father’s admirers he hoped it wasn’t a case of “false advertising.”
Just after 3 p.m. Monday, Trump Jr. marked his arrival by hopping out of the passenger door of a pickup truck, walking past a row of assembled media and taking questions exclusively from a reporter with the pro-Trump Right Side Broadcasting Network.
“The energy just feels great,” Trump Jr. said about the current political climate in New Hampshire. “People are sick of the insanity and they want to go back to putting America first. It’s not rocket science, but it seems to be so in Washington.”
With just hours remaining until the first Granite State primary ballots are cast at midnight in Dixville Notch, RealClear Politics polling averages show Trump maintaining a commanding lead, capturing more than 54 percent support.
The last opponent standing between Trump and the GOP nomination, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, is trailing in New Hampshire by 18 points in the RealClearPolitics average.
Haley has made it a point during her campaign stops to define a second Trump presidency as another four years of “chaos.” Trump Jr. pushed back on that assessment, calling it “media-created chaos.”
He later took a shot at Haley’s support for sending aid to Ukraine in response to the ongoing Russian invasion, a common topic in his father’s stump speeches.
“This is where Nikki Haley shines, she will send everyone and their children to go die in every war because she’s got to satisfy the people at Boeing and Lockheed Martin,” he said. “That’s their business and they’re playing with your money.
“But this isn’t just a knock at Nikki Haley,” Trump, Jr. added in a moment of magnanimity. “She’s the biggest warmonger out there, but the Democrats are just as bad.”
Trump Jr. also pushed back on recent criticisms of his father’s age and mental acumen as the Trump family patriarch nears his 78th birthday in June.
“Joe Biden, he was going to be the savior, but the guy can’t find his way off of the stage,” said Trump Jr.
“In all fairness, if it was Trump, and he got lost on a daily basis on a stage like this one, I have a feeling the people in the back — lovely people, totally unbiased,” Trump Jr. continued without capping his point about media bias and instead pivoting to China supposedly adopting diversity, equity, and inclusion policies.
Last week Trump confused former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Haley, a flub that Haley’s campaign has sought to take advantage of.
But if there are concerns in the media about Trump’s mental fitness and age, his supporters aren’t sharing them.
Mary Lemire, a 75-year-old Trump supporter from Nashua, said she’s constantly “blown away” by Trump’s energy.
“I don’t know how he does it but he does it,” she told the New Hampshire Journal.
One prominent supporter who received an embrace from Trump Jr. at the event was Al Baldasaro, a former Londonderry Republican state representative who leads Trump’s veterans coalition. Baldasaro called the criticisms “typical B.S.”
“It’s very easy for the normal person to speak without notes or anything to maybe flub something,” Baldasaro said. “He’s (Trump) not a robot and there’s a big difference between Biden and Trump, because Trump can talk for an hour and a half and not miss a beat, but Biden’s got as many notes as he needs but still stutters while he’s reading and has no clue which room he’s in most days.”
“I’ve been dealing with the Democrats’ attacks for years. They twist your words. They work to put you on the defense. That’s their playbook.”