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At Trump's Manchester Rally, Praise For COVID Response But Little Interest In Mask Wearing

Dan Tuohy/NHPR

President Trump returned to New Hampshire Friday night, fresh off the Republican National Convention, for a rally at Manchester Airport.

For the hundreds of supporters in attendance, the atmosphere was that of a festival. Many wore Trump-themed clothing. Others wore T-shirts celebrating right-wing figures ranging from Fox News host Tucker Carlson to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

A minority wore masks, which are now required in New Hampshire at gatherings of more than 100 people. And many in the crowd jeered when an announcer on the PA system suggested they don them.

The COVID-19 pandemic was on the mind of many attendees. Timothy Parnell, an engineer who lives in Seabrook, said Democrats’ criticism of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus is “absurd.”

“The only way the president could have done better is if he was psychic,” Parnell said. “He took advice from the scientists; he asked for advice.”

In fact, much of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, including his recent touting of potential treatments for COVID-19, has been criticized by independent scientists.

Melissa Cote, of Fitchburg, Mass., said, for her, Trump's patriotism alone has earned him another term in the White House.

“The world is not what it used to be, but one thing I love about President Trump: He is all American,” Cote said. “He loves our country. Biden? He loves himself.”

Trump’s visit was his first to New Hampshire since February. His campaign sees the state – which provided his first victory of the 2016 Republican presidential primary and which he narrowly lost in 2016 to Hillary Clinton – as a possible 2020 pickup.

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.

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