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Trump supporters are making sure he wins the New Hampshire primary

Despite all the bad legal news, some supporters say Trump’s woes give them more motivation to get out the vote.
Trump supporters are making sure he wins the New Hampshire primary
Posted at 4:32 PM, Jan 18, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-18 18:33:52-05

Donald Trump faces 91 criminal charges on both a federal and state level. He is dealing with several high-profile civil lawsuits.  

The amount of legal trouble he has would likely sink other political figures, but not him — not if you judge by the fervent dedication of his supporters.  

Just ask Tracey Mailhot and her boyfriend Sal Mize. The Newton, New Hampshire, couple waited hours in the freezing cold and snow before attending Trump’s rally in Atkinson.  

“That’s the difference, he’s not a politician," Mailhot said. “He’s a businessman that wants to run America.” 

Mize sat alongside Mailhot in shorts and an overcoat. He was undeterred by the long line. “Absolutely, for a worthwhile cause,” Mize said.  

University of New Hampshire political scientist Dante Scala has studied seven primaries in the Granite State. He says the GOP is now the party of Donald John Trump.  “Trump turned out to be the successor to Ronald Reagan,” Scala said. “As surprising as everybody finds that, he's been the central figure of the New Hampshire Republican Party and the national Republican Party now going on a decade, just like Reagan was back in the 1980s.” 

The cause for New Hampshire's Trump faithful is making sure their candidate wins the primary on Jan. 23. Other supporters before the Atkinson, New Hampshire rally think Trump’s myriad legal problems are politically motivated.  

“I mean they raided his house, the poor guy, he’s been through the mill,” said supporter Bridget Trepsis, referring to when federal investigators searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago compound for classified documents he was keeping at his Florida residence.  

In all, Trump faces dozens of felony counts across two state courts and two different federal districts, any of which could potentially produce a prison sentence — connected to election subversion, mishandling of top secret documents, the paying of hush money and fraud. Trump also faces multiple civil trials, including a defamation lawsuit. 

Despite all the bad legal news, supporters like Paul Laskowski say Trump’s woes give them more motivation to get out the vote.  

“The only thing I question is why the judicial system is pushing these issues that are unfounded, they’re trying to tarnish his reputation," said Laskowski.

SEE MORE: Judge rules Trump can remain on Washington's primary ballot

Trump’s claims of judicial mistreatment have resonated with Republican primary voters. At the Atkinson, New Hampshire rally on Jan. 16, the candidate himself lamented his situation to the roaring approval of the crowd.  

"They go after their political opponents with the DOJ and the FBI,” Trump said. “That's me, they go after me.  I've got some many court cases. I've been indicted more than Alphonse Capone. “You know who Alphonse Capone is? The greatest gangster of all time. He was the No. 1 of all time — Scarface."

Charges from agencies like the Department of Justice, New York’s attorney general and a local district attorney in Georgia all came in a relatively close time span. Legal observers say that’s not evidence of any nefarious plot, because they all came after long investigations — not to mention a longstanding Department of Justice policy that a sitting president can’t be charged with a crime.  

“With these trumped-up charges, pardon the pun, with this political persecution, it strengthened my resolve to the point where I swear right here and now,” said Trump supporter Edward X. Young.  

On Tuesday he told us he drove overnight from New Jersey to see the former president, adding he’s seen Trump more than 60 times.  

“It's really time they just accept the fact there's no way any of us here are going to change. We're voting for Trump. I would take a bullet for him,” Young said.  

UNH political scientist Scala adds Trump supporters act as rhetorical human shields.  

“Turns out people love the drama, right? People love being part of something. And that's what Trump brings to them, that they're part of something that they feel is greater than themselves,” Scala said.  

His supporters frame his struggles as theirs, as well as his own perceived victimhood.  

"Donald Trump is behind this country. He's behind us 100%. That man loves us. He loves this country. He wants to save it,” said Maureen Robichaud, another supporter who braved the wait and cold to see him in Atkinson.  

Those going to these rallies, standing outside waiting for hours — are his most enthusiastic supporters. And if Trump is the Republican standard-bearer, they will be voting in November. 


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