Donald Trump returned to New Hampshire Thursday for a rally in Bedford, where he took aim at Hillary and former President Bill Clinton.
Anti-Clinton messaging is a staple at GOP events, but Thursday it was evident long before Trump or any of the other speakers took the stage. One only had to wander the parking lot where vendors had set up tables with anti-Clinton merchandise.
Retired engineer Kevin Mattatall lives in Windham. An independent who tends to vote Republican, he voted Trump in the New Hampshire primary, and says he was drawn to Trump’s blunt political style from the very start. And as for Hillary Clinton, on that score, Mattatall himself was pretty blunt.
"She’s corrupt. She should have been investigated. They dropped the ball, say it like it is."
Inside the rally, which was held at an indoor soccer field, the messaging was of a piece.
"You need to tell people that we have an option. One of them is going to make America great. The other is going to rob everything we’ve ever had," said Bedford state senator Andy Sanborn.
Here’s 2nd congressional district nominee Jim Lawrence.
"Hillary Clinton has done everything in her power to make us not safe, not economically viable."
And here’s Former U.S. Senator Bob Smith.
"Join me in that basket of deplorables, and let’s have this basket of deplorables get this deplorable woman and keep her from the White House."
When it was Donald Trump’s turn to speak, he turned to Hillary Clinton quickly. He started by mocking her recent visit to UNH with former rival Bernie Sanders.
"Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, had very few people at their rally yesterday. And that’s because they don’t like Hillary, and Bernie sold out to the devil."
Trump then toggled to a critique that cast Clinton as self-dealing symbol of all that’s wrong with American politics. And Trump’s didn’t just focus on the democratic nominee. He also invoked former President Bill Clinton, and his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
“The American people have had with years of and decades of Clinton corruption. Impeachment for lying, impeachment for lying, remember that? Impeach.”
Trump’s decision to directly raise Bill Clinton’s infidelities marks a change in approach from Monday’s debate.
It went over fine at his rally, but could complicate his effort to court middle of the road voters, particularly women. The crowd in Bedford was mostly male. And whether not Bill Clinton’s sex life proves a lasting topic of discussion for Trump, not every Trump backer has hard feeling toward Bill Clinton.
Even Kevin Mattatall, the voter who wanted to buy a t-shirt showing Hillary Clinton behind bars said he harbored a soft spot for her husband.
"The last Democrat that I voted for? Probably Slick Willie. I thought he was very good."