In Wake of N.H. Primary, Most State GOP Candidates Opt Out of Trump Rally

Sep 15, 2016

Credit Paige Sutherland/NHPR

After Tuesday’s primary election, both parties’ tickets for November are now officially in place. On Wednesday, the state’s GOP leaders gathered for a “unity breakfast” and got one major call to action: stand with the man who will be at the top of their lineup: Donald Trump. Their first chance was last night, at a rally Trump held in Laconia.


When Republican candidates campaigning into Tuesday’s primary were asked if they supported Trump, the most common answer they gave involved about how important unity was. How of course, they stood with their party. 

But on Thursday in Laconia, you didn’t get the sense that any voters in this crowd were much concerned with anyone other than Trump.

Matt Mayberry, vice chairman of the New Hampshire GOP walked on stage first to try and rally everyone around the party’s new ticket—the whole ticket.

"I just have a couple questions for you. Pretty easy ones. How many of you want to keep Frank Guinta in the US Congress?"

--A smatter of applause.

"We’re going to try that again, because remember, they called us deplorables, so we’re gonna try this again."

--So he tried again.

"How many of you want to elect Kelly Ayotte and keep the US Senate seat in Republican hands?"

--A little better.

"Ladies and gentlemen how many of you after ten long years want to see a Republican in the corner office in Concord?"

--A bit more applause.

But Mayberry only really got the applause he was hoping for with this one:

"Ladies and gentlemen how many of you want Donald Trump in the White House?" And that garnered huge applause. 

As it turned out, 1st District Congressman Frank Guinta, who won the primary by fewer than 1,000 votes, was the only candidate who showed at the event. And more than any other major GOP candidate in the state, Guinta has been the one most willing to embrace Donald Trump.

And on that stage in Laconia, Guinta repeatedly compared himself with the guy everybody was here to see.

"He is speaking to Independents, he is speaking to disaffected Democrats, just like I did when I was running for Mayor…"

He advised people to look further down the ballot, not just the top.

"So in November, not only are we all going to go out and vote for Donald Trump. But you’re gonna see two names on that ballot when you get near my name."

Then, Trump came on and gave pretty much the stump speech he’s been touring with this week. He didn’t offer congratulations or even mention the Republican victors from this week’s primary.

But then, he took this pause. And for a moment it seemed like maybe he was going to bring out one of his fellow party leaders…

"And by the way off stage I see a very. Special. Person."

Was it Kelly Ayotte back there, come to stand beside him for the first time, or maybe Chris Sununu, who hadn’t appeared so far either? Because, for a normal presidential candidate, this would be the point when he might want to show some local know how – put his arm around a mayor, or State House candidate, even.

But not Trump.

"Has anyone ever heard of Eric Trump? Eric my son Eric come on up, Eric! He is workin’!"

Towards the end of his speech, Trump pointed the crowd once again to November 8th, and talked about what the stakes are for him.  

"You better make sure I win on November 8th because I’m gonna have wasted a hell of a lot of time, energy, and money."