Wednesday was the first day for presidential candidates to file for the New Hampshire presidential primary. Seven candidates are now officially on the ballot -- including GOP businessman Donald Trump.
When the Secretary of State Office opens its doors at 8 a.m. on the first filing day, there are typically a handful of lesser known candidates already lined up. But this year, the first person to arrive was a Trump supporter – wearing a yellow wig and a hat emblazoned with Trump’s slogan: "Make America Great Again.”
This became emblematic of the rest of the day as Trump stole most of the spotlight at the State House Wednesday.
“Wow what a turnout huh, this is a little different than most of them – this is a little different than all of them huh.”
Before the Republican candidate arrived, dozens of supporters had already gathered outside waiting to catch a glimpse of him. Meanwhile both national and local reporters waited for nearly two hours sardined in the cramped office of Secretary of State Bill Gardner.
As Trump made his way through the State House, he took a minute to talk with a group of fourth graders on a tour. The kids were later seen walking around the State House sporting Trump stickers.
When he finally arrived on the second floor, Trump was escorted by bodyguards on all sides. Supporters constantly interrupted his passage, asking to take selfies.
Paula Penney, who has worked in the Secretary of State’s office for more than 30 years now, had to stand on her desk just to get a clear view of the candidate.
“I tell everyone they have to stand down there and then I get up there – home field advantage,” she laughs.
Once inside the office, Trump shook hands with Secretary Gardner, signed the required paperwork and handed over his payment of $1,000 dollars.
“It’s a cashier’s check I don’t think they would have taken mine. They wanted a cashier’s check. So this is from a bank that’s actually not as rich as we are.”
And, in keeping with primary tradition, the last thing every candidate had to do was write a slogan on an official notice to voter’s flier, which has been a ritual of the Secretary of State’s for decades.
“My slogan – ‘Make America Great Again.’ That’s what we are going to do – Make America great again.”
Trump then took questions from the press –focusing mostly on his standing in the polls. “I’m winning in Ohio against Kasich by a lot, I’m winning in Florida like I said against Bush and Rubio – I’m winning everywhere,” Trump said.
Trump also talked about his excitement to host Saturday Night Live this weekend. “I think it’s going to be fantastic –a lot of them are saying it is going to be one of the highest rated shows in the history.”
The other major candidate to file yesterday, Democrat Martin O’Malley, arrived earlier in the day, shortly after the office opened at eight o’clock. Although he didn’t receive Trump-level attention, O’Malley did have more than a dozen supporters accompany him.
Asked how he planned to gain traction in the Democratic field dominated by Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, O’Malley said the race has only just begun. “Everything prior to this was preseason but now with this first debate we are truly into the competitive aspect of this race,” he said.
Five other candidates filed yesterday, none of whom have yet appeared on a debate stage. Including a fellow who introduced himself as…“Joe Robinson the problem solver.”
And Mark Stewart of West Harford, Connecticut, who was the first to file. Stewart said this will be the first of many trips he makes to the Granite State before February.
“I will be making probably more visits to this state than Hillary and Bernie combined. I’m close enough to be here almost every week.”
Although some candidates received more attention than others, at the end of the day, Gardner says, in New Hampshire everyone has a chance.
“You’re given the same status on the ballot as everyone else no matter what your rank is in life.”
Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina and Bernie Sanders are scheduled to file on Thursday, with other candidates in coming days.