In N.H., Trump tells voters to ‘not let this opportunity slip away’

  • Donald Trump arrives at the SNHU Arena Monday night. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Donald Trump brought up his family to the podium at the SNHU Arena Monday night. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Donald Trump addresses the crowd in Manchester on Monday night. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Blue and red lasers pulsed behind the stage. Fog machines blew billowing white smoke into the air.

A fan for flair, Donald Trump’s final campaign visit to New Hampshire on Monday night had all the trappings of a rock concert. And the Republican projected a confident attitude to match, predicting a win in the Granite State that would propel him into the White House.

“New Hampshire has never disappointed me,” he said at the SNHU Arena in Manchester, where thousands of supporters turned out to see him.

The Granite State offers just a fraction of the 270 electoral votes needed to clinch the presidential contest, but it’s a must-win for Trump. And it’s a symbolic state for his candidacy; New Hampshire delivered the Republican his first victory in the presidential contest.

Trump reminded attendees he hadn’t forgotten his promise to local voters.

“We will stop those drugs from flowing in, poisoning your children,” he said. “We will work very hard to get people off that addiction. I said I was going to do it, and we’re going to do it.”

The Republican spent most of his 40-minute speech characteristically talking about his poll numbers, taking aim at his opponents and ticking through his campaign platforms. Voter turnout will be key in the contest, but Trump only spent the final few minutes urging people to get to the polls.

“Do not let this opportunity slip away, folks, it’s never going to happen again,” he said.

The New Hampshire secretary of state is predicting 738,000 voters will turn out today, a much higher number than in the past few presidential contests.

And in the frenzied final days of the presidential election, Trump has made two stops to New Hampshire, trying to capitalize on the tightening race here. A handful of polls released last week put Trump ahead of Clinton in the Granite State for the first time this cycle.

But Trump has been outmatched by Clinton’s army of allies – from President Obama to James Taylor – who have spread across the state and country to campaign on her behalf.

He made light of the situation Monday, saying his children who accompanied him on stage have been the best surrogates. The Republican then announced he has New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s vote and read a letter of support, to thunderous applause, he received from the team’s coach, Bill Belichick.

“So I will make you a deal, you can have Pocahontas,” Trump said, referring to Clinton backer U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. “I will take Tom Brady and Belichick.”

A Republican hasn’t won New Hampshire since 2000, when George W. Bush beat Al Gore by just over 7,200 votes. Trump has struggled to win over all state Republicans in wake of his attacks against a Gold Star family and the release of a 2005 video that shows him boasting about groping women without consent. Former U.S. senator Gordon Humphrey, a Republican, cut an ad for the Clinton campaign this week urging voters to back the Democrat and calling Trump “cruel,” “shameless” and a “bully.”

But that doesn’t mean Trump supporters aren’t confident. Many waiting in an entry line that snaked outside the arena said he will win.

“There’s a greater being that wants Trump to be our president,” said Carol Gagliardi, a 72-year-old who drove up to the rally from her home in Branford, Conn., and waited outside the arena in 30-degree temperatures, wrapped in a red fleece blanket and flip-flops. “He is going to make it happen.”

But what if Clinton proves victorious?

“Recount,” said Keith Andreson, a 59-year-old Northfield resident. Trump has made repeated claims the election is rigged against him, but most of his supporters said Monday they will accept today’s result.

“I have no reason not to,” said Richie Melanson, a 27-year-old from Campton. “But we won’t have a united country if Hillary wins.”

At the event, Trump relentlessly attacked Clinton, whom he regularly calls “Crooked Hillary.”

“She’s being protected by a totally rigged system,” Trump said, as the crowd erupted into spontaneous chants of “Lock her up!” “Hillary showed contempt for the working people of this country.”

Despite the bitter 2016 presidential contest, Trump supporters said they are confident the businessman will unite the country if elected. But they agree it will take time.

“Half the country doesn’t like him,” said Chip Morton, a software engineer from the Nashua. “He’s going to have to prove something.”

(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or at amorris@cmonitor.com.)