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In Manchester, Donald Trump draws crowd for rally

Last modified: 6/18/2015 10:51:49 AM
One day after officially announcing his candidacy for president, Donald Trump visited New Hampshire for an event at Manchester Community College, where the real estate magnate and reality TV star spoke and took questions on a range of issues, with Trump consistently highlighting his business experience and deal-making ability.

The stop came in between Trump’s trips to Iowa, where he spoke Tuesday, and South Carolina, where he will appear Friday. Before Trump took the stage, speakers including Miss New Hampshire USA Samantha Poirier of Dover spoke to the crowd of about 200 (Trump owns the Miss Universe Organization, which also produces the Miss USA pageant).

After rocker Neil Young said Wednesday that he didn’t approve of Trump’s use of Young’s song “Rockin in the Free World” at Trump’s official announcement in New York on Tuesday, Trump took the stage to Bachman–Turner Overdrive’s “Takin’ Care of Business.”

In a roughly 25-minute speech, which Trump gave without a teleprompter or extensive notes, he spoke on a battery of issues similar to those he addressed in his announcement speech. He began by addressing money in the political system and his personal finances, and said political donors and interest groups have too much control over candidates.

“It’s so much about the lobbyists and the special interests and the donors, I mean and the donors,” Trump said. “People contribute to the campaigns and they own a lot of these guys. I’m not saying in every case, only in about 95 percent of the cases,” he joked. “They own them. They give money to a candidate and they have their candidate in office they virtually own them.”

Trump pivoted from his personal finances to his focus on taking care of military veterans, an issue on which he said he has long worked.

“The reason I tell you about the financials is because that’s the kind of mentality you have to have at the top,” he said. “You have to have that mentality. You have to have somebody who knows that you’ve got to have money in order to be rich. Because if we can’t be rich, we can’t take care of our vets, which we’re not doing, by the way. I will do it. I will take care of our vets.”

On immigration, Trump said he would build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, though he said he does not hold any animosity against Mexican-Americans.

“We have to get rid of the executive order where people are allowed to just flee into the country – just flee right here, like water,” Trump said. “And by the way, Mexicans, I love Mexicans. They’re great. I have so many friends, Mexicans. But the people that are coming into our country are in many cases brutal. You’ve got the drug guys, you’ve got rapists, you’ve got killers. And when you think about it, doesn’t it make sense? Are they going to send their best and their finest? I don’t think so.”

Before opening the floor to the audience for a town hall-style question-and-answer session, Trump also spoke on his plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, how to stimulate the economy, and unemployment numbers that he said are closer to 20 percent than the officially reported 5.5 percent.

Trump encouraged audience members to make their questions “wild and crazy and whatever the hell you want,” though most questions focused on typical political issues including his approach to government accountability, Second Amendment rights, health care and veterans’ issues.

In response to a question about how Republicans have responded to scandals in the Obama administration, he said Republican lawmakers should be ashamed of themselves.

“We have had so many opportunities to do some real productive work, and the Republican politicians don’t have the guts to do it,” Trump said. “They don’t have the guts.”

One woman, who said her stepdaughter died of a heroin overdose last year, asked Trump his position on drug treatment, which he said he’s thought a lot about.

“I’ve been in New Hampshire for a long time. I’ve had a lot of friends here and I come here a lot, and they talk about the drug problem,” he said. “You know, you don’t think in terms of New Hampshire and drugs and a drug problem, but New Hampshire has a tremendous problem with it. Now it’s something we’ll start thinking about very heavily.”

Some in the audience, like Donna Horvit of Londonderry, were staunch Trump supporters. Horvit, who donned a white Trump T-shirt, said she supported Trump when he was considering a presidential run in 2012.

“He’s going to make a difference in this country, and I know it’s going to happen only with him,” Horvit said. “And I really believe in him and he loves his country. He’s a true patriot.”

“I want him to win. I want him to make America great again,” Horvit said, invoking Trump’s campaign slogan.

Others, like Grace Axelrod of Northwood, came to Manchester out of curiosity over the newest candidate. Axelrod said she supports former Heweltt-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, but wants to see every candidate speak twice before forming any final judgments.

“I’m really interested in finding out what he has to say,” Axelrod said of Trump. “I want to see how he plans on separating himself from the rest of the candidates, especially Carly because they’re the two business people who have a lot of experience and are new to the political field.”

Axelrod said she was “a little impressed, but a little disappointed” after Trump didn’t fully answer a question from her sister about how Trump would help restore the American dream.

“He didn’t really answer it, so I was pretty disappointed because that’s actually pretty typical politician behavior,” she said. “But in the end, he was really good at getting the crowd excited.”

(Jack Rooney can be reached at 369-3302 or jrooney@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @RooneyReports.)


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