LONDONDERRY — While waiting hours for the president, the crowd at a Manchester-Boston Regional Airport hanger in Londonderry last Friday night cheered as every plane passed. An eclectic mix of rock, opera and country played over the loudspeakers.
Then Air Force One landed, as the sun set behind it. President Donald Trump descended from the plane with his entourage and the crowd stood, roaring with cheers.
Fresh off accepting the Republican Party’s nomination, Trump said he was the only thing standing between “democracy and the mob” as he tried to close in on his Democratic rival’s lead with just over two months until Election Day.
Trump expressed his excitement to be in the Granite State, noting his previous Manchester rallies. Trump is targeting New Hampshire heavily this year. He’s visited twice previously this election cycle — once last August and in February the night before the presidential primary.
In June, he intended to hold a rally in Portsmouth, but that was canceled.
New Hampshire is a top pickup opportunity for Trump in 2020. He lost the Granite State in 2016 by fewer than 2,000 votes. The president repeated unfounded allegations that thousands of voters were bused into the state from neighboring Massachusetts four years ago, leading to his loss there.
“We are going to win the great state of New Hampshire. We have to,” Trump said. “And win four more years in the White House,” Trump said.
Trump downplayed his decreasing poll numbers, telling everyone to remember “before the plague.”
The president has held a few rallies since the coronavirus outbreak. This New Hampshire stop was the first in a state with a mask mandate. Gov. Chris Sununu previously ordered that people must wear masks at events with more than 100 people in attendance.
While waiting for Trump half the crowd was not wearing or pulled down their masks inside the airport hanger. About 15 minutes before Trump was set to land, an announcement on the loudspeaker asked those in attendance to put on their masks in accordance with Sununu’s order.
The crowd “boo-ed” in response.
At the rally, Trump talked about the “radical left,” while criticizing his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Democrat-run cities where protests have been taking place since the beginning of June.
The protests in many cities have been calling for racial justice after the police killings of multiple Black men and women, including George Floyd in May and the shooting of Jacob Blake, five days ago in Wisconsin.
Trump said the protestors were people who want to cause trouble, as seen by the “rioting” and “looting.”
“Has nothing to do with George Floyd. They don’t know who George Floyd is,” Trump said. "These are just bad people."
"The agitators will go from rioting in the streets to running the halls of government," he added, saying voters needed to support him to “save democracy from the mob.”
“No one will be safe in Biden's America," he added.
Trump pointed out that protestors attacked U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, last night. Paul was leaving the White House following Trump's speech accepting the Republican Party nomination.
“Thank God we had some good police around him,” Trump said. He added that the four officers who protected him should get a medal.
Trump also warned the crowd that Biden and fellow Democrats are going to erase borders, tear down history, defund the police, appoint far-left judges and prosecutors, destroy the suburbs and confiscate guns.
“Biden is against oil, guns and God” despite trying to win Texas, Trump said. “How do you win Texas?”
Trump also blamed Democrats for their handling of the coronavirus, saying he has saved hundreds of thousands of lives. However, he said Democrats are hurting the country now by not allowing Democrat-led states to reopen fully.
“You better vote for me, you better vote for me or we will have the greatest depression you have ever seen,” Trump warned voters.
Trump also criticized Biden’s family, as well as running-mate U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California. Trump speculated that Harris might take over the presidency from 78-year-old Biden. Trump said the first woman president should “earn it,” calling Harris iincompetent He said that his daughter, White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump, would be a good future president.
Trump also recognized several New Hampshire Republicans in his speech, including local state Reps. Al Baldasaro, R-Londonderry, and Fred Doucette, R-Salem. They serve as two co-chairs of his re-election campaign in the state. Trump also recognized Windham’s Corey Lewandowski, his 2016 campaign chairman. The men were sitting with other special guests in a set of bleachers to the left of the president.
Trump also recognized Gov. Chris Sununu during his speech, looking for him in the crowd. Sununu said earlier he would greet the president but would not be attending the rally because he tries to avoid large crowds.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.