Trump’s early New Hampshire backers to attend inauguration

  • FILE - In this Dec. 1, 2015 file photo, New Hampshire state Reps. Al Baldasaro, center, and Stephen Stepanek, right, speak with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign stop at the White Mountain Athletic Club in Waterville Valley, N.H. Both were active early in Trump's campaign and plan to attend his inauguration Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File) Jim Cole

Associated Press
Published: 1/20/2017 1:19:11 PM

New Hampshire legislator Fred Doucette was there when Donald Trump rode down the escalator in Trump Tower to announce his presidential candidacy in 2015. He was there as the billionaire businessman campaigned across New Hampshire, eschewing the tradition of retail politics in favor of mega-rallies.

Doucette knocked on doors in Connecticut and Maine, working hard for a campaign many voters and friends once considered a longshot and a joke. And he’ll be there Friday in Washington when Trump takes the oath of office to become the nation’s next president.

“It’s surreal in a way, in that I spent a lot of time trying to convince people that he was the right guy for the job,” the state representative and retired firefighter said.

Doucette, of Salem, is a core member of the New Hampshire team that backed Trump early, ignoring the naysayers and helping deliver the Republican his first victory in the primaries. Another is Rep. Al Baldasaro of Londonderry, who made a national name as one of Trump’s key veterans advisers and for his eyebrow-raising comments, including that Hillary Clinton should be shot for treason. Former Rep. Steve Stepanek of Amherst, who hosted Trump’s first New Hampshire house party, also emerged as an early and loyal backer of Trump.

All three are among the New Hampshire residents spending Friday and Saturday in Washington to witness Trump’s swearing in and to celebrate his victory at inaugural balls and celebrations. Baldasaro will speak at a “Bikers for Trump” rally.

“It feels great, history is being made,” Baldasaro said. “This is my first opportunity, and my wife’s, to be a part of this. I’m just glad I picked a winner who I believe in my heart is going to make a big difference.”

The three aren’t the only Granite Staters who were instrumental in Trump’s campaign. It was Windham resident Corey Lewandowski who served as Trump’s first campaign manager, popularizing the strategy to “let Trump be Trump.” He’s now starting a Washington lobbying firm.

No New Hampshire residents have received significant appointments in Trump’s administration, but several have been involved in the transition and inaugural. Operative Michael Biundo, who joined Trump late in the game after working for GOP primary contenders Rand Paul and John Kasich, was tapped to join the inaugural committee. Other New Hampshire campaign staffers continued working through the transition.

Doucette said he hasn’t talked to Trump since Election Day but hopes the key New Hampshire players will have a chance to take a photo with the new president this weekend.

Once the celebrations are over, Trump’s New Hampshire loyalists expect the new president to get straight to business – and to remember the state that put him on the path to victory.

“New Hampshire holds a special place to him,” Doucette said.

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