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0000017a-15d9-d736-a57f-17ff8f680000Coverage of the 2016 races in New Hampshire, from the White House to the State House.

For Some Trump Supporters, A Desire to See Their Candidate Be More 'Presidential'

Jason Moon for NHPR

A crowd of roughly 1500 supporters greeted Donald Trump at his campaign stop in Windham Saturday night. And while their enthusiasm was clear, many also expressed trepidation over the way Trump made headlines last week.

In the crowded Windham High School gym Saturday night, there was a long wait before Trump took the stage. For some Trump supporters like Sheryl Lauranza, it had already been a long week for her candidate.

“I’m a Trump supporter but it’s been a rough week.”

Lauranza traveled from Methuen, Mass. to hear Trump speak.

“I think he’s brilliant. I think he’s got what it takes. But I’m a therapist and so I feel like saying ‘don’t say that! Think it but don’t say it!’ So I think that’s the struggle.”        

It was a view shared by many others who waited hours in the sweltering heat to hear Trump, including Laura Kuehn of Manchester, Susan Paterna of Windham, and James Hill of Salem.

“I think that sometimes Trump can bite himself in the foot a little bit.”

“I think he says what a lot of people think. But I think he needs to say it more presidential.”

“Oh I wish he would straighten up and fly right a little better, but there’s a learning curve for everyone with everything.”

Trump’s recent struggles include a spat with the Gold Star Khan family, a reversal on whether he would endorse fellow Republicans Paul Ryan and Kelly Ayotte, and a new poll that shows him trailing Clinton in New Hampshire by double digits.

When Trump took the stage, he seemed determined to leave all that behind by shifting the focus to his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

“She’s a liar. She’s a horrible, horrible human being.”

Trump spent much of his speech going after Clinton, reversing many of the same characterizations she often makes of him.

“She is a totally unhinged person. She’s unbalanced. And all you have to do is watch her, see her, read about her.”

Trump also repeated his proposal to build a wall on the southern border as a way to address New Hampshire’s opioid crisis.

“We’re gonna stop that crap from coming in, I’ll tell ya. We’re gonna stop heroin from pouring in. We’re going to work with the youth and other people that are totally addicted to what our country has allowed to come in.”

Proposals like that are what propelled Trump to victory in the GOP primary here in February. Whether he can succeed in November may depend on whether he can convince a new set of voters he’s presidential enough for the job.

Jason Moon is a senior reporter and producer on the Document team. He has created longform narrative podcast series on topics ranging from unsolved murders, to presidential elections, to secret lists of police officers.

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