Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

DURHAM, N.H. (AP) — Donald Trump asked New Hampshire voters on Saturday to help him secure the Republican presidential nomination before any rivals find their footing with the 2024 campaign’s opening contest just weeks away.

The appearance in Durham was part of a swing taking the former president through early nominating states as he cites his wide polling lead over a dwindling field of GOP hopefuls. They are trying to block his political comeback as Trump navigates multiple indictments and looks ahead to a potential rematch with President Joe Biden, the Democrat he lost to in 2020.

“We are going to win the New Hampshire primary, then we are going to crush crooked Joe Biden next November,” Trump said, reminding supporters that he ensured their state would continue to host the nation’s first primary after Iowa’s kickoff caucuses.

“New Hampshire is going to weed out the insincere RINOs … Republicans in name only,” Trump said, referring to rivals Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor who was endorsed by Trump in 2018, and Nikki Haley, Trump’s former U.N. ambassador. Trump warned that his allies-turned-opponents “will betray you just like they betrayed me.”

The New Hampshire primary is Jan. 23, eight days after Iowa begins the nominating process on Jan. 15. Nevada and South Carolina come next in the early stages, before Super Tuesday on March 5, when the highest cumulative number of delegates are up for grabs on any single day on the election calendar. The Trump campaign sees a path for him to secure the nomination before the Super Tuesday polls open.

“What’s really important from our standpoint is being able to win the early states,” senior campaign adviser Chris LaCivita told Right Side Broadcasting minutes before Trump stepped on stage. “Winning Iowa, winning New Hampshire, winning Nevada, winning South Carolina – it’s over. That’s our goal.”

Before the rally, Trump’s campaign announced an endorsement from former state Senate President Chuck Morse, who is now running for governor. Morse, who ran for U.S. Senate last year but lost the primary to a candidate more closely aligned with Trump, told the crowd it’s time for Republicans to “rally around a candidate who can not only win but get the job done for our country.”

“He’s done it once and he’ll do it again,” Morse said.

Gov. Chris Sununu on Tuesday endorsed Haley, who is battling DeSantis to become a plausible alternative to Trump. Sununu, a frequent Trump critic who passed on the 2024 White House race, has argued that Republicans with “no path to victory must have the courage to get out” of their party’s primary in order to stop Trump.

Trump called Sununu a selfish “spoiled brat” who passed up a chance to win a U.S. Senate seat in 2022, then indulged his presidential aspirations but found no traction.

“Now he couldn’t get elected dogcatcher,” Trump said. “He’s endorsed somebody that can’t win, has no chance of winning.”

A New Hampshire poll conducted in November by CNN and the University of New Hampshire found that Haley was in second place, well behind Trump, but slightly ahead of fellow candidates DeSantis and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Trump has won New Hampshire’s GOP primary twice but lost the state in both of his general elections. He is confident enough in his domination of the Republican Party that he spent more time Saturday angling against Biden.

“Under the Trump administration, you were better off, your family was better off, your neighbors were better off, your communities were better off, and our country was better off. America was stronger, richer, safer, and more confident than ever when you had me behind that desk in the Oval Office,” Trump said.

That argument resonates with voters like Brandon Sevey, 25, who was attending his first Trump event from nearby Dover. Sevey said he has worked a variety of retail and fast-food jobs and found it easier to find work when Trump was president. Plus, he likes Trump’s brashness.

“He’s loud and obnoxious and annoys people,” Sevey said. “But that’s what I like about him.”

—- Barrow reported from Atlanta.

(Copyright (c) 2023 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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