Is Trump's Strained Relationship With N.H. GOP a Thing of the Past?

Jul 1, 2016

Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Donald Trump was back in New Hampshire Thursday. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee held a private, town hall style event at a shuttered light bulb plant in Manchester.

It was Trump’s second trip here in just the last few weeks, and behind the scenes, there’s been a shakeup in his New Hampshire campaign since his last visit.

James Pindell covers the presidential race for the Boston Globe. He joined NHPR’s Morning Edition to talk about his reporting.

One way we’ve seen Trump’s campaign change here has been his relationship with the state Republican Party. The two sides haven’t exactly gotten along in the past. What’s going on there?

For most of this campaign, it was Trump racing against the system. That was actually part of his brand. And he had a very strained relationship with the state Republican Party. He did not attend their events. They had a big fundraiser with all of the candidates. He did not show up. His staff and volunteers even called on Jennifer Horn, the state party chair, to resign several times and even circulated a petition. But one thing that was really fascinating about his trip here this week is that he worked hand in hand for the first time with the state party. He’s either changing his brand or waking up to the reality that he just does not have the staff or infrastructure on the ground to go it alone.

And we’re seeing that nationally, right?

We have. He’s essentially ceded his entire campaign to the Republican National Committee because they have had an infrastructure on the ground for months and months. But the big thing that happened to make this happen here in New Hampshire was the change in his national campaign manager, the guy who’s been with him from the beginning: Corey Lewandowski of New Hampshire. The fight with the state party has been very personal. The moment he’s gone, all the Lewandowski allies started to go away and the campaign started to work with the state party.

And Trump’s campaign went to another New Hampshire political operative who they haven’t actually had a good relationship with either. But they went to him because they had to.

Yes, Michael Biundo is from Manchester. He’s well known; he can do the job. His job is to be senior advisor. He’s also advising a Congressional campaign here in the state, as well as state Senate races. So this is not the only thing he’s going to do, but the interesting thing about him is we began this cycle with 17 Republican candidates. Biundo has now worked for four of them. And he’s been extremely critical of Trump as recently as a few weeks ago. I’m sure the moment he accepted the job, he had to go back and delete a lot of social media posts.

Another New Hampshire connection to Trump has been the involvement of Scott Brown in the campaign. He of course ran a failed bid for U.S. Senate here two years ago, shortly after moving here from Massachusetts. What do we know about his role in the campaign?

You hear different stories. He hosted a fundraiser for Trump in Boston this week. There’s a report that he’s on the short list for vice president. Consider me skeptical.

Any chance he could be the pick?

There’s always a chance. He says he’s got it down to three or four people, but Brown at this point doesn’t really bring New Hampshire and probably doesn’t bring Massachusetts.