MANCHESTER, New Hampshire — Before a packed 4,000-strong crowd at Verizon Wireless Arena here Monday evening — hours before the polls open in the first-in-the-nation primary state — Donald J. Trump, billionaire and national GOP presidential frontrunner, made his final case to the set of voters who will decide his future.
“So we have something very, very special going on: We’re going to have a country that’s smart, we’re going to have a country that’s tough, that makes the proper decision, that makes the right deals,” Trump said after taking the stage to The Beatles hit “Revolution.” He continued:
Our trade deals are so bad. I have the greatest dealmakers in the world, the richest men, the richest women who are truly successful. The best people in the world, we have them in this country. We don’t use them. We use political hacks. These are political hacks, to negotiate with China, with Japan, with Russia, with Mexico—Mexico, Mexico is taking business away from us folks like you wouldn’t believe. What are we going to do with Mexico, folks? We’re going to build a wall. We’re going to build a wall. And this is going to be a real wall. This is going to be a wall that is going to stop the heroin and the drugs from coming to New Hampshire completely. This is going to stop.
Trump added that this is “sort of our final love fest” before the primaries tomorrow, and he implored everyone to vote. “You have to get out and you have to vote no matter what,” Trump said.
“I don’t care what happens, no matter what, this has been the most amazing experience — the most amazing experience of my life,” Trump added later. “And you people have made it that way. You people have made it that way.”
Trump, who came in second in last week’s Iowa GOP caucuses to the firebrand conservative Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), has upended the entire political process during his entirely unconventional run for the presidency. Most expect Trump to win here handily, while others like Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) compete for second place. The question that remains is what margin of victory Trump will face, assuming he wins.
Tomorrow’s vote will determine much of what happens next. A big win by Trump — double digits or more — would send him barreling into the first-in-the-South primary state of South Carolina with incredible momentum. A smaller margin of victory could stunt Trump’s efforts to create an appearance of inevitability heading forward, and a loss, meanwhile, could be difficult to recover from.
Moments later, Trump brought his wife Melania, and shortly thereafter his daughter Ivanka, up on stage.
“We love you, New Hampshire,” Melania Trump said. “Together, we will make America great again!”
When Ivanka — who is expecting a child soon — joined him on stage, Trump said, “If she has the baby tonight in New Hampshire, that guarantees victory tomorrow. Please Ivanka, have the baby tonight!”
“I should be so lucky,” Ivanka Trump said. “New Hampshire, thank you so much. It has been amazing spending the last couple of hours here and obviously over the previous weeks I’ve been here quite a bit. My father has called so many times and said just the energy, the enthusiasm, the spirit of the crowds here are amazing. It really encourages us and keeps the momentum going.”
After thanking the local chief of police, who was in attendance, Trump turned back to the core messages of his campaign.
“A couple weeks ago, a politician — Nikki Haley — said in a speech, a rebuttal speech, referring to me, although my name wasn’t mentioned, although it was ultimately confirmed, that I’m angry, that I’m very angry,” Trump said. “And that the people that are with me are very angry. The people that are with me are really with me.”
He referenced polling that shows how loyal Trump’s supporters are as compared to other candidates’ supporters, before walking through how “We’re not angry people.” Trump said:
We don’t want to be angry. But I said right now, I will agree, me personally and a lot of the people that are with me, we are angry. Because we’re angry at incompetence. We’re angry at the Iran deal, where we give away $150 billion and get nothing. We’re angry at our trade deals, where China is making so much money that we’ve rebuilt their country, and then in the meantime our country and infrastructure of our country is going to hell. We’re angry when we make a Sergeant [Bowe] Bergdahl deal, who’s a dirty rotten traitor, where six people were killed looking for him and trying to bring him back. Six young great people killed looking for Sergeant Bergdahl and we make a swap knowing that he was a traitor. They had a colonel and a general talking to these people, and talking to the people that worked with them. They knew he was a traitor. They knew it and we made a deal.
After attacking Obamacare and the ineffective budget deals that feckless House GOP leaders have negotiated, he turned his fire on Common Core and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
“Bush loves Common Core,” Trump said. “He’s the only one that I know that loves Common Core, but that’s okay. We’re going to be bring education back locally. No more Common Core.”
“He’s also weak on immigration—remember they come as an ‘Act of Love,’?” Trump said, ribbing Bush some more.
Trump then hit Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) for his failure to be original, something New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie exposed as Rubio’s robotic nature. Trump said:
They’re politicians, all talk no action and getting re-elected. But you have some good politicians, but it’s mostly people who think about ‘How do I get re-elected?’ So I’m the only one. I’m self-funding. So when these guys see me — I know many of the guys — I’m looking at the room, I’m standing at the debate, I’m watching Marco sweating like a dog on my right. I’m watching Ted Cruz say, ‘No I would never say that about Donald,’ but he said something bad and they asked him ‘You said something bad, would say it again?’ and he said, ‘No,’ and I liked that he didn’t do that because we would have ended up in a big fight. It’s nice that he didn’t, honestly. Honestly, Marco was having a hard time — and I think he’s a nice guy. He’s a nice guy, but again and again and again after three times — I have a very good memory —so after three times, I said, ‘Wait he said that about three minutes ago.’ Then I said, ‘Wait, wait, wait, he said that two minutes ago.’ So after the fifth time I said, ‘What the hell’s going on?’
Trump hammered the permanent political class for looking out only for themselves and not for the American people. Trump walked through the way the crowd at the most recent debate was stacked with donor class figures, and not college kids, noting that “I know half the people out there” when he looked out upon the crowd.
“Sometimes you think the politicians are doing horrible, horrible deals — and they are horrible — but you think they’re really, really not smart people,” Trump said. “But they are actually smart people, but they’re working for themselves. They’re doing what their lobbyists who put up millions and millions and millions of dollars — I’m just talking about the honest stuff.”
Trump then shifted back to immigration, noting:
We’re accepting people and we’re accepting them in by the thousands, and you look at New Hampshire and the problems you have here with the drugs — people come into this country and you have absolutely no idea who they are, where they come from, are they ISIS? Maybe, maybe not. Somebody said, ‘Well ninety percent of them aren’t.’ Really? If we had 10 percent — look at what those two people did a couple months ago, radicalized people, they killed 14 people [in San Bernardino].
Trump walked through the Paris terrorist attacks and how he would defend the Second Amendment — arguing that an armed populous would have prevented the attacks from being as severe as they were, since gun control in France only allows the bad guys to have guns — then he shifted back to how there are criminal fugitive illegal aliens all throughout America right now.
“Right now, as we speak — it was released last week — we have 179,000 illegal criminal immigrants, illegal criminals, these are people who have been convicted of crimes, some very big crimes,” Trump said. “We have 179,000 people here that have committed crimes and shouldn’t be in the country. That’s bigger — 179,000 people is bigger, a lot bigger — than any city in New Hampshire. That’s a massive amount. So we’re going to do something about it.”
Trump harkened back to former President Dwight Eisenhower, who ran “Operation Wetback” and deported masses of illegal aliens back in the 1950s, saying, “I Like Ike.”
“I don’t want to put them in our jails,” Trump said. “Our jails are costing us a fortune. We’re bringing them back where they came from. And we’re going to be respected by those countries — we’re not respected at all by those countries — we’re bringing them back, and let that country put them in prison for the next 25 years, because we’re not going to do it. And they’re never, ever coming back to our country again. Never.”
The crowd roared.
Trump laid out how the rest of the GOP field has followed him on immigration and how other candidates are now talking about wanting to build a wall on the border. Without naming Cruz, Trump knocked him for copying him on the debate stage the other night, also saying there needs to be a wall on the border.
“My wife came up to me, Melania, and she said, ‘Darling did you hear that? That’s the first time I heard that from anybody else but you,’” Trump said. “We have to build a wall. Walls work. Just ask Israel. Walls work. They work. I don’t mean the little walls. I mean those walls. I mean serious walls. I mean Trump walls.”
He then laid out how the federal government, under President Barack Obama, has ordered Border Patrol not to enforce the law. Trump said:
I’ll tell you something, I met the Border Patrol people — they’re phenomenal — and the reason I met them is they called me. They said, ‘I want to meet you’ so I went to Laredo, Texas, and it was incredible. These people are incredible. They’re told to stand back. They’re told don’t touch anybody. They’re told to let people come in. They don’t want that. These are incredible men and women, there are people walking right in front of them and their incredible equipment, except for one thing: They’re told, ‘Don’t do anything.’ And when they do something, they say, ‘Give them a fine, let them go,’ and they go wherever they want, and that’s the end. You never see them again. We either have a country or we don’t. And just let me ask you one question about the wall: Who the hell is going to pay for the wall?”
“MEXICO!” the crowd shouted back at him.
“What?” Trump egged on the crowd.
“MEXICO!” the crowd yelled louder.
After mocking former Mexican president Felipe Calderon for saying Mexico won’t pay for the wall earlier on Monday, Trump said, “You know the wall’s just going to get bigger with that attitude.”
Trump wrapped his speech with a plea to New Hampshire to show up and vote for him because, “We don’t win anymore.”
“We don’t win on trade, we don’t win on anything,” Trump said. “We can’t beat ISIS with our military. Can you imagine Gen. George Patton, ‘We can’t beat ISIS?’ He would beat them by the time we walked out to the front row. We don’t beat ISIS. We’re going to start winning again. We’re going to win on every single level in our country. We’re going to win every single time we do something. We’re not going to make stupid deals anymore. We’re going to be led by smart people and have our smartest people representing us. Now I leave you with this. It’s so important. It’s so important. Tomorrow is going to be the beginning. I hear we have a lead, it doesn’t matter to me. Who the hell knows what the lead is? We have some snow, it looks like it’s going to stop. It’s so important; we have something so special going on. You have to go out, you have to vote, we have to celebrate tomorrow evening, we have to have a great victory. It’s so important, because we are going to make America great again.”