Just hours after federal District Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled he will be spending the day before Super Tuesday in a federal courtroom, 2024 GOP frontrunner Donald Trump was on the phone Monday night for a tele-rally with Granite State supporters.
His message: “As your president, I fought very hard for New Hampshire, like no other president in history.”
According to the campaign, 47,000 New Hampshire participants were on the call, a particularly large number given the Granite State’s strict “do not call” rules. That number represents about 15 percent of the total number of votes cast (284,000) in the 2016 GOP primary.
Earlier in the day, Chutkan set the trial for Trump’s indictment on charges related to election subversion for March 4, the day before Super Tuesday.
“This timeline does not move the case forward with the haste of the mob,” Chutkan said, adding, “My primary concern here is the interest of justice.”
While Trump did not mention his legal troubles, they were referenced by former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith (R-N.H.), who introduced the former president on the call.
“They’re very proud of you and proud of how you’ve stood up in the face of evil,” Smith said of the Trump supporters participating in the tele-rally. “All these ‘Russia, Russia, Russia,’ two impeachments, four indictments — now even talking about trying to deny you ballot access.
“You’re fighting the deep state, the corrupt, left-wing media, and even some of the RINOs in our own party, like a certain governor who I won’t name, but we all know who he is,” Smith said.
Trump sounded like he was reading from a script for most of his speech, which lasted around 10 minutes. He hit on issues commonly brought up by Republican presidential candidates in New Hampshire this cycle, including the lack of border security and its contribution to opioid addictions and deaths in the Granite State.
“I’ll stop the invasion of our southern border, wage war on the cartels, and we will have that finished,” Trump said. “It’s an incredible thing about New Hampshire. It’s this great place, but it’s got probably per capita the worst drug problem anywhere, the biggest epidemic anywhere in America.”
The former president also focused on energy costs, which may have resonated more than Trump realized, given Monday’s news that Liberty Utilities is seeking a rate hike of 23 percent on some residential customers.
“I’ll end Joe Biden’s inflation nightmare, quickly bring down the cost of energy. Right now, you have the highest energy [costs] in the entire nation,” Trump said. “Your energy costs, since I’ve left, have gone through the roof. We’ll bring them way down, and it’ll happen quickly.”
How? Trump’s answer: “Drill, baby drill.”
(While New Hampshire has among the country’s highest electricity and net energy costs, Hawaii ranks number one in most categories.)
Trump did mention last week’s GOP presidential debate, saying it “further proved that we’re the only ones who can get this job done.
“The debate was not outstanding,” Trump said. “No one else took a stand on the fake news media. They didn’t want to talk about the deep-state globalists, the warmongers, the people that want to go into war, kill everybody, and spend billions and billions of dollars doing it.”
The only GOP candidate he mentioned specifically was Gov. Ron DeSantis — as usual; Trump called him ‘Ron DeSanctimonious’ — attacking him for supporting a plan to keep Social Security solvent by raising the retirement age to 70.
His overall message for the rest of the GOP field was to suggest they get out of the race and endorse him.
“A lot of people think they ought to all drop out because we have a job to do,” Trump said. “We have to beat the Democrats. And as you know, they cheat. They play dirty, they’ll do whatever it takes, and we just can’t let anything happen.”
But mostly, Trump touted his record as president — appointing conservatives to the U.S. Supreme Court and achieving energy independence — and his proposals for the future, like building a VA hospital in New Hampshire.
“It’s badly needed. You’re the only state in the union that doesn’t have a full-scale VA hospital,” Trump said.
When he was done, Smith returned to the mic.
“Of all the presidential candidates that I’ve worked for over 50 years in New Hampshire, no one has been better than you and your entire team,” said Smith, who backed Ronald Reagan in 1980 and ’84.
On Monday morning, a new Emerson College poll was released showing Trump’s support has dropped by six percentage points since last week’s pre-debate national poll. However, Trump still has a commanding 50 percent of the GOP support, compared to DeSantis at 12 percent and Vivek Ramaswamy at 9 percent.
“While Trump saw a slight dip in support, the question from this poll is whether this is a blip for Trump or if the other Republican candidates will be able to rally enough support to be competitive for the caucus and primary season,” Spencer Kimball, executive director of Emerson College Polling said.