President Trump said he was looking to get under Democrats’ skin Monday with a rally in New Hampshire on the eve of the state’s first-in-the-nation primaries, and he wasted little time — quickly reliving his dramatic State of the Union speech with a thinly veiled shot at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
“I had somebody behind me who was mumbling terribly,” Trump mused, as chants of “Lock her up!” broke out.
“Very distracting. Very distracting,” Trump continued. “I’m speaking, and a woman is mumbling terribly behind me. Angry. We’re the ones who should be angry, not them.”
He then thanked Pelosi for giving Republicans the highest poll numbers they’ve “ever” had — or at least since 2005, according to a recent Gallup survey. Pelosi, who ripped up Trump’s State of the Union address as soon as it concluded, was widely criticized especially after videos emerged showing that she had visibly torn some of the pages in advance.
Earlier in the day, celebrating his acquittal last week on impeachment charges, Trump couldn’t resist taking a dig at the Democrats for the disastrous Iowa Caucuses last week, where the results remained incoherent and subject to change amid mounting inconsistencies.
“Will be in Manchester, New Hampshire, tonight for a big Rally. Want to shake up the Dems a little bit – they have a really boring deal going on,” Trump tweeted. “Still waiting for the Iowa results, votes were fried. Big crowds in Manchester!”
Trump later retweeted a post from ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl: “Cold rain, snow and lots of Trump supporters. Despite the miserable weather, there are already more people lining up outside the venue of @realDonaldTrump‘s rally tonight than you see at most of the events for the Democratic candidates. Some have been out here all night.”
At the rally, Trump remarked to applause, “We have more in this arena and outside this arena than all of the other candidates, meaning the Democrats, put together and multiplied by five. … We have never had an empty seat from the day your future First Lady and I came down the escalator.”
It’s been a tried-and-tested tactic for Trump: scheduling counter-programming to divert attention from the Democrats’ debates and other major moments, keeping him in the spotlight and building supporters’ enthusiasm in the months before Election Day.
Though it may not be the same show of force as last week, when dozens of Trump’s surrogates, including officials from across all levels of government, flooded the state of Iowa, the Trump campaign made its presence known in New Hampshire before the state’s primaries.
Vice President Mike Pence and Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and senior adviser, got to the state ahead of the president to do some campaigning.
Also being deployed by the president’s re-election campaign: Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Rand Paul, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu and Trump’s former campaign manager, New Hampshire resident Corey Lewandowski.
Supporters waiting for the start of President Trump’s rally Monday in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Still, the marquee event has been Trump’s rally, and supporters started lining up for it Sunday. Images of bundled-up supporters camped outside the SNHU Arena in Manchester broke through the news coverage of the Democrats’ primary.
“Want to shake up the Dems a little bit – they have a really boring deal going on.”
— President Trump
New Hampshire has always loomed large in Trump’s political lore as the first nominating contest he won during 2016’s heated Republican primaries. He was about to take the stage at a rally in Manchester that October when news broke that the FBI was re-opening its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, breathing new life into his then-struggling campaign.
And, it was the site of the penultimate rally of the 2016 contest — an extravagant send-off just hours before a post-midnight rally in Michigan.
Though Trump narrowly lost New Hampshire in the general election four years ago, his team has said it’s one of the few states that could flip to red in November. Democrats in the state had a different view.
“It’s obvious that Trump and the RNC are desperate to put New Hampshire in play after losing the state by 3,000 votes in 2016. But, we’ll make sure that Granite Staters know that he has broken his promises to his state and he will lose here again in November,” New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley told reporters.
The president relished the idea of dominating the stage in New Hampshire and stealing some of the media oxygen from the Democrats. Advisers reportedly hoped that Secret Service moves in downtown Manchester to secure the area for the president’s arrival would make it harder for Democrats and their supporters to transverse the state’s largest city in the hours before the primary’s first votes are cast.
Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.