Neither snow, freezing rain, nor an interminable wait to see and hear former President Donald Trump could dampen the fervor felt by his legions of supporters at the leading GOP nominee’s first Granite State stop following his crushing victory in Iowa.
“We’re here for it; we’re here for him,” said Paul, a plumber from Sandown who was one of hundreds standing in line for more than 90 minutes in freezing temperatures outside the Atkinson Resort and Country Club.
And as if the glacial pace of the security line did not test supporters’ patience enough, a lengthy delay spanning nearly three hours awaited hundreds of attendees shoehorned into the club’s ballroom upon arrival.
Yet the roars of support from the crowd when Trump finally took the stage signaled that, for his fans, it was worth the wait. Trump was delayed by an appearance in a New York City courtroom in the E. Jean Carroll defamation trial.
“If you think that it was easy to get here tonight, you’re wrong,” Trump said as the crowd cheered. “They said, ‘You may have to do this another time,’ and I said, ‘I’m not going to tell the people of New Hampshire I’m not going to be there.’
The night before, Trump delivered a sound victory at the Iowa Republican caucuses, scoring 51 percent of the vote, according to the Associated Press. His closest GOP opponent was Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at 21.2 percent, with former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley checking in at 19.1 percent and upstart candidate Vivek Ramaswamy finishing a distant fourth at 7.7 percent.
Ramaswamy’s performance led him to bow out of the race and throw his support behind Trump.
On Tuesday, Ramaswamy received thunderous applause as he stood on stage alongside Trump in Atkinson. The biotech entrepreneur delivered a fiery speech, telling Trump supporters, “There is a war in this country between the permanent state and the everyday citizen.”
“Right now, we need a commander-in-chief who will lead us to victory in this war,” he said. “You’ve got to know you’re in a war to win one, and you can’t win if you’re asleep at the switch and have your head stuck in the sand like most Republicans. It is a 1776 moment right now.”
Trump used his speech to hit back at the media “for refusing to air my victory speech last night” and claimed Democrats “are funding Nikki Haley’s campaign.”
Trump’s remarks hit a familiar tone as he ripped his GOP opponents and hammered President Joe Biden’s handling of the country.
The criticisms lobbed by Trump were exactly what supporters like Mike and Amy Levesque of Derry expected to hear. Mike Levesque, a member of the Boston-based North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, said Trump has “more union support than people realize” and added this was his and his wife’s first time attending a Trump rally.
Asked if he thinks Trump’s landslide win in Iowa means he’ll capture New Hampshire with ease, Levesque simply said, “It’s all over.”
“It’s done, he’s got this thing. The fact so many people took part of the day off to drive through the snow and stand in the freezing rain for so long tells me that nothing is going to stop Trump.”
Amy Levesque was a little more reserved.
“I don’t want to jinx it,” she said.
Trump all but guaranteed not only a New Hampshire victory but a return to the White House. He said he expects to make America “rich as hell again” and added that he believes his multiple indictments have helped him surge in the polls.
“They’re bulls–t indictments,” he said. “I call them Biden indictments.
“I’ve been indicted more times than Alphonse Capone.”
Trump also pointed to a claim made by pollster Scott Rasmussen in the aftermath of Iowa that the Republican presidential primary “is over” as a result of Trump winning the GOP caucus with the largest margin in history.
“We’re up in every single poll for the last two months against Crooked Joe Biden,” Trump said. “We are beating everybody.”
ABC News announced it canceled a GOP debate scheduled for Thursday “after it became clear that only DeSantis would participate.”
Trump, who hasn’t participated in any debates during the current cycle, does not have any events scheduled for Thursday.
He will be appearing in Portsmouth on Wednesday and in Concord on Friday. On Saturday, Trump will hold a rally at the Southern New Hampshire University Arena in Manchester.
“With your help, one week from now, we are going to win the New Hampshire primary, and then we’re going to defeat crooked Joe Biden,” Trump said.