It was still dark out when hundreds of voters made their way to a country club in Atkinson to see Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump. But Trump wasted no time in energizing this early morning crowd by going on the offensive.
Trump’s first target was the media, which he accused of inflating the significance of recent polls that show Ben Carson leading the GOP field in Iowa.
“You’re going to find out about the media someday folks, they are the worst," said Trump. "They are the worst."
Trump still leads in both national and New Hampshire polls, which he took pains to point out. But even if Trump was eager to downplay the significance of certain polls, it was Carson himself who became Trump’s next target.
“By the way Carson is lower energy than Bush, I don’t get it," said Trump. "I saw him being interviewed he’s lower energy than Bush. He’s a nice guy. He’s not going in – you know these Chinese negotiators are fierce! Fierce!”
Trump’s negotiating skill was a major theme throughout his half-hour speech. And he emphasized it by going after his third target: the Obama administration. Trump derided everything from the Iranian nuclear agreement, to the American military presence in South Korea, to the prisoner exchange that released U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who Trump referred to as a quote “dirty rotten traitor.”
Trump promised to get along with all world leaders and secure better terms when negotiating when them. A claim he summed up near the end of his speech this way.
“We’re gonna have so many wins, they’re gonna be pouring out of your ears," exclaimed Trump. "You’re gonna get tired of winning. You’re gonna say ‘Mr. President, let’s have a loss, this is getting boring’ and I’ll say ‘no, I won’t do that’.”
For Trump supporters, it seems the early morning trip was well worth the spectacle. Sandra Mackmann of Rye said she came out to hear Trump unfiltered through the media, and says she supports him due to his background as a corporate chief.
“He has deep business experience," said Mackmann. "Which I think this country needs, because all of our crises are always based on dollars.”
Paul Mizalo of Londonderry liked Trump because of how his immigration stance might affect one prominent local issue.
“I think his focus on illegal immigration is critical," said Mizalo. "Especially with this drug problem we’re having in New Hampshire. We see a lot of the importation of illegal drugs and they’re coming from Mexico. We need to shut those borders down and control that drug problem.”
Trump may be garnering support thanks to his resume and policy positions, but it’s clear that there’s also something less tangible at work. Sandra Mackmann put it this way:
“Donald Trump has an energy about him that’s contagious.”