MANCHESTER, N.H. — Supporters of President Trump are cooking up countermeasures to their Democratic foes — from handing out free cheeseburgers outside an Elizabeth Warren event to poke fun at the Green New Deal, to using a bullhorn to amplify their chants outside a Joe Biden rally.
With more than a year to go before the general election, the GOP in New Hampshire is building a ground game in the key battleground state they want to turn red after narrowly losing to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016.
“What’s so enticing about New Hampshire is that Clinton won it by less than 3,000 votes,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “So they recognize there is an opportunity.”
The impeachment proceedings against Trump are only adding fuel to the fire for the president’s backers, supporters said.
“People are more energized than ever to get out and support their president,” said New Hampshire Republican National Committee spokeswoman Nina McLaughlin.
After sticking it to the Dems outside their Manchester dinner Friday evening — which featured some of the party’s presidential hopefuls — a couple dozen Trump supporters headed to a Trump Victory Leadership Initiative voter outreach training session at the office of Republican Victoria Sullivan, a Manchester mayoral candidate and former New Hampshire state rep.
The first half of the roughly hourlong session was open to the press, during which volunteers eagerly took notes and cellphone videos as a GOP staffer explained the how-to’s of door-knocking and phone banking with the help of a PowerPoint presentation.
Be polite, not confrontational, the volunteers were instructed. Remember, you’re representing not just the campaign, but Trump and his family. And always make sure to finish your route or phone list, because data is king.
O’Connell called Trump’s 2020 campaign a “well-oiled machine” and “a dramatic improvement” over the ragtag operation he ran as an outsider in 2016.
With incumbency on their side, Trump and his team are working in lockstep with the RNC and many of the state parties — much to the chagrin of the president’s three primary challengers, who are facing canceled contests in some states, but not New Hampshire.
Trump’s re-election campaign and the RNC are also sitting on a massive war chest, with a combined $125.7 million raised in the third quarter and $158 million in cash on hand.
“They’re in a good spot right now to be able to move people around” as needed in key states, O’Connell said. “They know this is potentially going to be a really tight election.”
The RNC has eight staffers in New Hampshire, basing out of the state party’s office in Concord, and has trained about 1,200 volunteer fellows since 2016, with the goal of having a neighborhood leader in every community in the state, McLaughlin said. Nationally, the campaign is aiming for 2 million volunteers, including its 30,000 existing fellows.
Team Trump will file for the first-in-the-nation primary on Nov. 7 and is teasing a special guest for the State House event. The president hasn’t been in the state since an August rally that packed the more than 10,000-seat Southern New Hampshire University Arena in Manchester.
“We’re in it for the long game,” said McLaughlin. “So for us, we’re building. We have all the time in the world to flesh out our model.”