At noon on Wednesday, about 50 Granite State supporters of President Trump and his #StopTheSteal movement were gathered at the state capitol in Concord, listening to the president’s speech from a D.C. rally and cheering him on.
“I believe the election was stolen,” said longtime Republican Susan Moltilsanti of Bow, NH. “It makes you wonder about the future of our country.”
Two hours later, violent pro-Trump rioters were sweeping across Capitol Hill in Washington, resulting in at least one death and a nationally-televised desecration of the U.S. Capitol, and even some of Trump’s biggest local fans weren’t cheering.
NHGOP Chairman Stephen Stepanek and Vice Chair Pamela Tucker, both strong Trump supporters, released a joint statement condemning the violence.
“The activity seen at the United States Capitol today is wholly unacceptable and is an affront to our Republican values,” the statement read. “We pride ourselves on being the party of law and order – to riot and storm the halls of Congress as these protestors have done is not conservative. It is not Republican. Those who have broken through barricades and assaulted Capitol police do not speak for the Republican Party.”
Gov. Chris Sununu, who voted for Trump but showed far less enthusiasm than many of his fellow Granite State Republicans, also condemn the violence. “What is going on at the United States Capitol Building is not Democracy, it is chaos and violence. It is un-American, and must stop immediately,” Sununu said via Twitter.
One longtime NH Trump supporter was more direct speaking on background: “This is a f—ing disaster. #MAGA is dead.”
New Hampshire Democrats didn’t hesitate to blame President Trump for the deadly violence on Wednesday. “The president of the United States essentially has laid siege to the Capitol by inciting protesters and convincing them that, somehow, there was election fraud that’s depriving him of reelection,” said Rep. Chris Pappas.
Rep. Annie Kuster released a statement reading in part: “The President has fanned the flames of violence for months. This is unacceptable, it is un-American, and it has no place in our nation. Those involved in this violent mob should be held to account and be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Trump continued to push the unfounded claim that the election was stolen, both at the midday rally and even after the violence. He released a statement via Twitter that ended with a call for rioters to “go home,” but most of the statement was yet another screed about a stolen election.
As a result, some of his New Hampshire allies believe he may have hurt his ability to play a role in GOP politics in the future.
“I’m not sure Donald Trump will have the same influence on the party in the future that he had before today,” said NH Trump campaign co-chair Rep. Fred Doucette (R-Salem).
Others, however, appear to be looking for ways to remain loyal.
New Hampshire Republican National Committeeman Chris Ager was targeted by violent anti-Trump protesters during the GOP convention. He was at an RNC meeting in Florida Wednesday. “Violence and vandalism is always wrong. As a target of harassment, I have no tolerance for those tactics,” he told NHJournal, “The vast majority of the protesters in Washington, DC appeared to be concerned and patriotic Americans assembling peacefully to show their frustration over the election.”
Trump advisor Corey Lewandowski, who’s recently suggested he might run for governor in 2022, attempted to divert the blame away from the Trump supporters in DC and toward a conspiracy theory that the violent leftwing group Antifa was behind the violence. “I do believe that there are people who are members of Antifa who have probably infiltrated the crowd and did some of these things. I don’t know that for a fact, but I suspect that’s the case,” he told WMUR’s John DiStaso.
Outspoken Trump supporter and Manchester Alderman At Large Joe Kelly Levasseur sees Trump as part of the GOP future, despite the violence in DC.
“Trump laid the groundwork for an America First agenda,” Levasseur told NHJournal. “Anyone who wants his support and/or his base’s support has a long list of promises made and promises kept to live up to. Only time will tell who can ride out of his shadow and carry that load!”