Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday sought to strengthen his hold on New Hampshire GOP primary voters as he and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) held dueling campaign events in the Granite State.
Trump spoke at a luncheon for the New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women, where he took aim at DeSantis on foreign policy, trade and on the governor’s past comments on entitlement reform.
“Unlike Ron DeSanctimonious, who voted to gut Medicare and Social Security and voted 3 times to raise the retirement age to 70, I will always protect Medicare and Social Security for our great seniors,” Trump said, referencing DeSantis’s votes as a congressman for non-binding budget resolutions to raise the retirement age to 70 for seniors to collect Social Security benefits.
The former president on Tuesday also unveiled his campaign’s New Hampshire leadership team and boasted of dozens of state lawmakers who had previously endorsed him. The former president also attended a “grand opening” of his New Hampshire campaign headquarters in Manchester.
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Earlier Tuesday, DeSantis held a town hall in Hollis, N.H., where he sought to further draw a contrast with the former president as a conservative who could get done some of the things Trump left unaccomplished upon leaving the White House.
DeSantis has in recent days focused particularly on immigration policy, vowing to finish a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and to crack down on drug dealers.
“We’re actually going to build the wall,” DeSantis said. “A lot of politicians chirp. They make grandiose promises and then fail to deliver the actual results. The time for excuses is over. Now is the time to deliver results and finally get the job done.”
DeSantis’s presence down the road did not go unnoticed by Trump and his team, and they have tried to quash any sense of momentum the governor might be building in the Granite State.
“By the way, he’s holding an event right now which is considered not nice,” Trump told supporters. “He’s holding an event right now to compete with us. Well guess what? Nobody showed up.”
Trump won the 2016 New Hampshire GOP primary, which helped put him on track for the party’s nomination. Strategists believe a challenger who will unseat Trump will likely need to win or have a strong showing in Iowa or New Hampshire next year.
Trump and DeSantis visited the state on the same day a new poll indicated the former president’s lead was expanding, despite his recent indictment on federal charges.
A Saint Anselm poll of New Hampshire Republicans released to coincide with the Republican candidates’ dueling visits showed Trump had expanded his lead in the Granite State, drawing the support of 47 percent of those surveyed, compared to 19 percent who backed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). A March poll from Saint Anselm had Trump leading DeSantis 42-29.
“We’re leading by a lot,” Trump said of primary polls. “I mean, I’d have to work really hard to blow this one.”