Some N.H. Republicans Flock To Trump, Others Steer Clear In First Visit Since Primary

Jun 13, 2016

Donald Trump at a press conference on his primary filing day in New Hampshire
Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

According to Donald Trump's state campaign co-chairman, Steve Stepanek,  Trump's speech at St. Anselm college --  which featured a broadened call for tighter borders, and a post-Orlando pledge of fealty to the nation's LGBT community  --  was a sign that Republicans are uniting.   

"This is the beginning of the general election. right now, this is where he is kicking of the general election. And he will be bringing people together."

But few high-profile Republicans now jockeying to share the ballot with Trump were among the crowd of 110 guests to take in the speech in person. Senator Kelly Ayotte, for instance, was in DC; the better known half of the GOP Gubernatorial field -- Chris Sununu and Ted Gatsas were also no-shows.

As another Republican running for governor, Jeanie Forrester, filed into the Institute for Politics, she agreed that now's the time for her party to start to come together.  But Forrester also couldn't suppress a chuckle when the question was put: Was she absolutely planning to vote Trump?

"I would say yes, yes I would."

Inside the room where the New York businessman delivered  his 30 minute speech, a rare one in which the candidate relied on teleprompters, the media sat three deep. Dozens swiveled to watch as State Rep. Al Baldasaro (r-Londonderry)  backslapped with former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown.

"Here's trouble."

"What's up Al?

"Welcome home, Scott."

Sitting nearby, another republican, Terry Pfaff, a former State Rep and current Chief of Staff to House Speaker Shawn Jasper, was quick to make sure his presence was properly construed. Not a supporter, not an objector. Instead, a conscientious observer.

"First year ever I didn't have a sign in my yard for any presidential candidates, and every member of my large family voted for somebody different. A bizarre year, and here's the result."

And while what results from Donald Trump for the state GOP will remain in doubt until November. How the party chooses to rally around Trump -- or steer clear of him -- will be a factor.