Trump event in N.H. an attempt at GOP unity: ‘It’s not all about Mr. Trump’

  • Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to a small audience outside the former Osram Sylvania plant Thursday in Manchester. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff

  • Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to give a policy speech to a small audience outside the former Osram Sylvania plant in Manchester on Thursday, June 30, 2016. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gave a policy speech to a small audience outside the former Osram Sylvania plant in Manchester on Thursday, June 30, 2016. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gave a policy speech to a small audience outside the former Osram Sylvania plant in Manchester on Thursday, June 30, 2016. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gave a policy speech to a small audience outside the former Osram Sylvania plant in Manchester on Thursday, June 30, 2016. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Donald Trump criticized trade deals during his speech in Manchester on Thursday. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff

  • Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gave a policy speech to a small audience outside the former Osram Sylvania plant in Manchester on Thursday, June 30, 2016. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gave a policy speech to a small audience outside the former Osram Sylvania plant in Manchester on Thursday, June 30, 2016. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gave a policy speech to a small audience outside the former Osram Sylvania plant in Manchester on Thursday, June 30, 2016. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • A Donald Trump supporter holds up a homemade "Trump 4 Truth" sign during a speech the Republican presidential candidate gave outside the former Osram Sylvania plant in Manchester on Thursday, June 30, 2016. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to a small crowd in Manchester on Thursday. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff

  • Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump places a signed hat on a woman's head before posing for a photo with her following a speech on trade outside the former Osram Sylvania plant in Manchester on Thursday, June 30, 2016. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump signs a book following a speech on trade outside the former Osram Sylvania plant in Manchester on Thursday, June 30, 2016. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

Monitor staff
Published: 6/30/2016 11:39:47 AM

The sun beat down as Donald Trump spoke to a small group of New Hampshire Republicans at a private event in the parking lot of the former Osram Sylvania manufacturing plant Thursday.

It was a chance for Trump to show off his trade policy chops. But New Hampshire campaign co-chairman Fred Doucette said the intimate event was also supposed to be a chance to win over Trump skeptics, and it was in contrast to the massive rallies the campaign usually holds to fire up die-hard supporters.

In addition to Trump loyalists getting tickets to the event, the New Hampshire GOP was given 150 tickets to distribute, an attempt to bring others into the fold, Doucette said.

“They are part of the team; it’s unity,” Doucette said of the state Republican Party. “It’s not all about Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump recognizes that he needs people who are less than enthusiastic about his campaign.”

It’s yet another sign of an initially fractured group of Republicans coming together as the general election nears. But in addition to the message, GOP members are also starting to focus on organization.

The Trump campaign is building its New Hampshire staff back up after primary season, according to Matt Ciepielowski, New Hampshire state director for the Trump campaign. He said the campaign is looking to have 12 to 13 staff members in the state, the same number it had before the primary.

“We’re getting the groundwork laid out now,” Ciepielowski said, adding that the campaign is working closely with the state party and Republican National Committee.

Ciepielowski said his staff is working on getting organized with regional volunteer leaders in various cities and towns – people he described as Trump campaign “workhorses.”

“Getting those folks ready to reach out to their people,” Ciepielowski said.

Trump’s campaign infrastructure leading up to the New Hampshire primary was small compared with the larger operations of Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton and his Republican challengers. Trump’s small staff primarily focused on phone-banking and relied on help from volunteers scattered across the state and country.

Still, Trump won that primary with 35 percent of the vote, and Doucette predicted Trump would win the general election by even larger margins.

“I hope they keep thinking we have nothing going,” he said. “If you only knew; we got a plan and we got a team and we’re in motion.”

The Trump campaign recently hired New Hampshire Republican operative Mike Biundo as national senior adviser. Biundo previously worked for the Rand Paul and John Kasich campaigns.

The Republican National Committee is working to supplement the Trump operation. The RNC has been building an operation in the state for more than a year. It has 29 paid staff members in the state and a network of more than 160 volunteers working under four regional field directors.

The state Republican Party will also be working to help Trump.

“The NHGOP is all in for the nominee,” said the organization’s executive director, Ross Berry.

Berry said the state party is meeting daily to work on voter outreach with door-knocking, phone-banking and house parties. He said Trump is bringing “new energy to the party, and I am excited to see it.”

The state Democratic Party is also building a coordinated operation with the Hillary Clinton campaign in New Hampshire. Party Chairman Ray Buckley recently told WMUR there would eventually be about 100 staffers and 24 field offices as part of that effort. There are about six paid Clinton staffers in New Hampshire, but that number could change.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s New Hampshire visit Thursday was announced last minute, with the campaign notifying the press less than 24 hours before the event began.

New Hampshire Trump campaign co-chairman Al Baldasaro said he was notified a few days ago that Trump would be making an appearance in the Granite State, but he said the venue was not settled on until Wednesday.

Audience members sat on chairs in the old parking lot of the former Osram Sylvania manufacturing plant, with grass poking up through the pavement. The huge, empty building provided a backdrop as Trump talked about the state losing jobs as companies moved manufacturing out of the country.

Throughout the hourlong speech and the question-and-answer period that followed, Trump hit Clinton on trade, comparing himself to Sanders on the issue.

“There’s nothing that’s closer to my heart than trade, there’s nothing closer to my heart than the workers who are being so badly taken care of,” Trump said.

Osram Sylvania closed in 2014, resulting in the loss of nearly 140 jobs. Though Trump stated the company had closed due to trade deals such as NAFTA, the move came as sales declined for traditional lighting products, a company spokesman told the Associated Press.

The company still operates facilities in Hillsboro and Exeter.

The South Willow Street property is now being redeveloped, at a cost of $30 million to $40 million, into a retail shopping mall set to open in fall 2017, said developer Dick Anagnost, president of Anagnost Co. His partners at Brady Sullivan arranged the Trump speech, he said.

(Allie Morris contributed to this report. Ella Nilsen can be reached at 369-3322, enilsen@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @ella_nilsen.)




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