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

Support for Trump Still Strong in N.H. Despite Recent Sexual Assault Allegations

Paige Sutherland/NHPR
More than 2,000 people showed up for Donald Trump's rally in Portsmouth on Saturday. This was his sixth visit in the past two months.

The latest polls show Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by about four percentage points in New Hampshire — closer than in many other battleground states.  And for Trump supporters here in the state, a week of increasing allegations didn’t keep them away from a weekend rally in Portsmouth.

Hours before the event opened – hundreds of people waited outside to get in, cars filled the streets for miles. And most everyone was focused on Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton.

You could buy shirts and pins reading – "Hillary for Prison" and "Deplorable Lives Matter." And chants of, "lock her up, lock her up," filled the air both outside and inside the venue.

This was a message Trump continued often and early during his speech – calling Clinton “the most corrupt candidate to ever seek the Oval Office.”

And when he addressed allegations that he made unwanted sexual advances on women he again denied all claims and blamed the media.

Credit Paige Sutherland/NHPR
On Saturday Donald Trump again denied all sexual assault accusations and blamed the media for fabricating the story.

“The election is being rigged by corrupt media pushing completely false allegations and outright lies in an effort to elect her president,” he told the 2,000 person crowd.

And Trump’s supporters took their cue from the candidate – like Mark Walker of Newton who called these accusations politically driven.

“I think it’s all unbelievable – I really do. Trump has been around thousands of beautiful women for many years, so how can you possibly, three weeks before the election, start coming out of the closet accusing him of these awful things. I’m not buying it," Walker said.

Neighbors Richard Dichirico and Andrea Ouimette of Maine agreed.

“What about what Bill Clinton did, I think that’s a little worse than the things they’re accusing Trump of doing,” Dichirico said. “He did the actions, Trump is doing the talking,” Ouimette said laughing.

For supporter Roseann McMenemy of Haverhill, the allegations aren’t easy to laugh off.  But her concerns aren’t enough to change her mind — the alternative, she says, is just too risky.

“I think it’s all unbelievable – I really do. I’m not buying it," Mark Walker said of the recent allegations.

“I had a few doubts, I did some praying on it, and I just have to go with Trump. I just can’t go with Hillary Clinton – she’s a liar and I can’t trust her," McMenemy said. "So my choice is Trump. I’m not happy with the things he said but I’m still in support of him.”

But a handful of protesters outside of the event were determined not to let the past week’s news be ignored. They waved signs at ongoing traffic that read: "Live Free, Dump Trump" and "Granite State Men Respect Women."

A sign In the hands of Wendy Thomas of Merrimack read: "Trump Makes America Hate Again."

“A lot of people are saying they are outraged because they have daughters, they have mothers, they have wives, well guess what – I have four sons and I don’t want an America where this is considered normal behavior," Thomas said passionately.

Credit Paige Sutherland/NHPR
Wendy Thomas (right) along with many others came to Trump's rally early to try to persuade people from voting for the Republican nominee.

Last week the First Lady gave a fiery speech in Manchester calling Trump’s treatment of women “intolerable” and “disgraceful.” And his recently leaked comments cost him the support of Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte, who’s running for re-election.

And that disappoints Dolores Elena-Messner of Hampton. She voted for Ayotte last election but  says she’s not so sure now.

“This week in fact on Tuesday I called her office and I told them – if she remains against Trump, I will not support her for Senator," Elena-Messner said. "If she is a loyal Republican or a loyal Democrat – she needs to back who the party, who the people in her party have put forward."

Recent polls have Clinton leading Trump  by between four and six points in New Hampshire and whether the fallout from a bad week for Trump will widen that gap - is hard to tell. Or what will unfold this week when the candidates debate each other Wednesday night in Las Vegas.

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