MANCHESTER, N.H. ― President Donald Trump’s more rabid supporters aren’t concerned about any of the candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, predicting he’ll be easily reelected to a second term this year.
“It’s going to be a landslide. I’m not worried by anybody,” Dale Lemelin, 59, said as she waited to hear Trump speak at a rally here Monday evening in a state that launched his political rise in the 2016 GOP presidential race.
Democrats vying to take on Trump in 2020 barnstormed the Granite State over the weekend and on Monday, making their closing pitch to voters amid hopes for an efficiently run primary on Tuesday after the bungled Iowa caucuses that left party officials feeling dispirited and in disarray. The field remains unusually large and in flux, with a cluster of candidates vying to get a boost from New Hampshire as the once-seemingly formidable Joe Biden, the former vice president who had led for months in national polling on the race, struggles to gain traction.
“It’s kind of sad. They’ve got nothing to offer. It’s too bad,” said a woman named Jay, who made the 40-mile trip from Wilmington, Massachusetts, to see Trump speak for the first time. She declined to give her last name.
Eric Kessler, 58, a property maintenance technician from Manchester, supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 race for the Democratic presidential nomination. But that November, he ended up voting for Trump after Hillary Clinton emerged as the party’s choice. He said he believes Sanders wouldn’t be a problem this time around for Trump if the Vermont senator snags the Democratic nomination.
He also ticked off businessman Andrew Yang, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) as the only Democratic contenders he found likable.
“Yang is the only one that’s not a politician,” Kessler added approvingly.
Lemelin, a retiree from Alton Bay, New Hampshire, didn’t share Kessler’s attitude toward Klobuchar, who has stressed her middle-of-the-country roots and made appeals to moderate Republicans on the stump.
“She seems like a bitch. She’s got that bitch face on her all the time,” Lemelin said. “I have no use for her. I think she’s crazy.”
Lemelin conceded that Sanders has her feeling “a little nervous” because “he’s got all the young kids in colleges believing in all the socialist stuff.”
Several Trump supporters showing up to the rally said they liked Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who for the most part has been an afterthought in the Democratic race but has occasionally gained attention for breaking with party leaders on some matters. She and Clinton have traded barbs during the campaign ― Gabbard recently filed a defamation suit against the former secretary of state. And Gabbard notably voted “present” on the two articles of impeachment the Democratic-controlled House approved against Trump last year.
The congresswoman is bidding to exceed expectations in Tuesday’s vote, an effort that has included paying for huge billboards touting her that are posted throughout downtown Manchester.
“I don’t think Democrats have anybody worth watching except for Gabbard, but she’s at 1%” in polls of the primary race, said Rachel Crosscup, a school lunch worker from Massachusetts (a state Democrats have easily carried in presidential elections for decades). “She’s the only one I like because she’s the same way [as Trump]. She tells it how it is. We’re just regular people, we just tell it like it is.”
Gary Laruso, a businessman from Manchester, said he wasn’t worried about the prospect of Trump facing Biden in the general election ― even as most national polls have shown Biden ahead of the president.
Biden “can’t do it anymore, it’s obvious to everybody,” Laruso said. “I’m not a big fan of his, but I don’t like anybody at the end of their life to lose their dignity. He seems to be doing that.”
Not even the possibility of billionaire Michael Bloomberg winning the Democratic nomination seemed to worry Trump supporters. The former New York City mayor is skipping the first four states that vote in the race and making a play for the delegate-rich electoral contests on Super Tuesday, March 3. He’s spent hundreds of millions of dollars on his campaign so far, much of it on slickly produced anti-Trump ads he has promised to maintain even if he loses the Democratic contest.
But on Monday, as the crowd poured into Southern New Hampshire University Arena for the Trump rally, Bloomberg was an afterthought. Trump and his son, Don Jr., focused instead on attacking Biden, Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and a Democratic not in the presidential race ― House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, who presided over Trump’s impeachment.
“I don’t think the money matters right now. We need to see more than money,” Kessler said when asked about Bloomberg’s wealth. He added that if Bloomberg were to prevail “because of his money, then that just shows how much more corrupt (the political process) is.”