MANCHESTER, N.H. — President Trump rallied thousands of cheering supporters Monday just hours before the New Hampshire primaries, lampooning the comparatively smaller crowds of his Democratic opponents, mocking their botched Iowa caucuses and predicting his “landslide” victory in the Granite State this fall.
With his primary win all but assured, he also gave the crowd permission to “cross over” and vote for whoever they think the weakest 2020 Democratic candidate is, though he said it would be tough to choose just one.
“We are going to win New Hampshire in a landslide,” Mr. Trump told a cheering crowd at SNHU Arena in Manchester. “We have more in this arena and outside of this arena than all of the other candidates, meaning the Democrats, put together and multiplied times five.”
The Granite State also will hold a Republican primary on Tuesday, but Mr. Trump’s victory is all but assured. His most prominent competitor is former Gov. Bill Weld of Massachusetts; former Rep. Joe Walsh ended his long-shot primary challenge to the president Friday.
“I hear a lot of Republicans tomorrow will vote for the weakest candidate possible of the Democrats — does that make sense? You people wouldn’t do that,” he said. “You can vote for the weakest candidate if you want.”
Unaffiliated voters in New Hampshire can vote in either party’s primary.
SEE ALSO: Donald Trump mocks botched Iowa caucuses: ‘They’re trying to take it away from Bernie again’
Mr. Trump said Washington Democrats are “losing their minds” and are taking their cues from “Crazy Bernie,” his nickname for Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont, the front-runner in New Hampshire among the 2020 Democratic hopefuls.
“The Democratic Party wants to run your health care, but they can’t even run a Democratic caucus in Iowa,” he said. “Nobody knows who won. Actually, I think they’re trying to take it away from Bernie again. I think Bernie came in second — can you believe it? They’re doing it to you again, Bernie. They’re doing it to you again.”
Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, edged out Mr. Sanders in the Iowa caucuses, though both campaigns have requested a limited recanvass of certain precincts after technical errors marred the process and caused a nearly weeklong delay in tallying final results.
Sanders supporters are still sore about 2016 when it was revealed that top Democratic Party officials discussed undermining Mr. Sanders in his battle for the party’s presidential nomination against Hillary Clinton.
Mr. Trump also recited the poem “The Snake,” a mainstay from his own 2016 campaign.
“I used to do this a lot and people couldn’t get enough of it, to be honest with you,” he said. “I haven’t done it for a while, and I want to do it tonight because you’re on the eve of giving us an opponent. And all of these people want open borders, they want open borders.”
After he placed second in the 2016 Iowa caucuses to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Mr. Trump won New Hampshire en route to bulldozing his way to the Republican nomination.
“All of you took a chance on my father,” Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, said as he warmed up the crowd Monday. “Donald Trump needed this job like a hole in the head … why’d he do it? For all of you.”
The president came within a whisker of defeating Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire in the general election, though a Republican presidential candidate hasn’t carried the state since 2000.
“You have some pretty strange election laws here, right? Remember last time, we won the primary tremendously,” the president said. “We should have won the [general] election … but they had buses being shipped up from Massachusetts. Now you get prosecuted if you do what they did.”
“But we have done great, this has been an incredible state for us. Just great people. And we hear that they’re good because you have crossovers in primaries, don’t you?” he said.
Lines to get into the venue snaked down the surrounding streets as people queued up to make sure they got a chance to see the president.
The arena-size crowd dwarfed the number of attendees the 2020 Democratic candidates have been drawing to their events around the state at various schools and community colleges.
There was a similar crowd in the same venue for the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club dinner on Saturday, though that event featured about a dozen of the Democratic presidential contenders.
Mr. Sanders drew close to 2,000 people at an event in Keene over the weekend. His campaign said it was the largest crowd of any candidate to date in the state, though that was before his Monday evening rally with The Strokes in Durham.
Mr. Buttigieg’s campaign touted that he collectively drew more than 5,000 people to four events across the state Sunday.
Supporters of the president said they saw his election-eve rally as a way to mess with the Democrats ahead of a make-or-break primary for much of the field.
“It’s brilliant — absolutely brilliant. Look at the crowd here,” said Janet Hansen of Hooksett, N.H., who said she would be working at the polls Tuesday.
“It’s a mess really. The Democrats are just in disarray. I don’t think they can put up anybody that’s really going to be able to defeat him,” she said. “If I were a Democrat, I’d probably vote for somebody like Tulsi [Gabbard], but she wouldn’t have a chance, probably.”
Michael Griffin of East Bridgewater, Mass., said Mr. Trump is just in the heads of the other side.
“Every single thing that they try to do to him — the Russia [thing], he wins. The impeachment thing, he wins,” said Mr. Griffin, 57, a fraud investigator. “They don’t know what to do with him. He’s driving ‘em crazy. Every single thing they try, he just comes out smelling like roses.”
He said people don’t understand what a great salesman Mr. Trump is.
“This guy could sell ice to Eskimos … I watch him sometimes and I’m just in total awe,” Mr. Griffin said.
Ken Murphy, a letter carrier from Massachusetts, chuckled at the prospect of Mr. Trump’s messing with the other side with the rally.
“Takes it away from the Dems,” he said. “I love it. I love it. He’s no dummy, this guy.”
Mr. Murphy didn’t put much stock in the 2020 Democratic field.
He said the struggling Joseph R. Biden likely would have self-imploded even without Mr. Trump’s pressing the issue of his son Hunter Biden’s business ties in Ukraine, which was at the heart of the impeachment case against the president.
“I think his senility’s coming in. The guy can barely speak,” he said.
Dave Boyer reported from Washington.
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