MANCHESTER, N.H. — Chants of “Trump it up” and “Build that wall” intermittently rang through the Queen City, as thousands of people wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats readied to attend President Donald Trump’s campaign rally at Southern New Hampshire University Arena on Thursday.
“I honestly believe Trump is going to win New Hampshire,” said state Rep. Al Baldasaro of Londonderry, one of Trump’s New Hampshire campaign co-chairs. “No other candidate is bringing out this many people.”
Baldasaro and his wife, Judy, stopped to shake hands with supporters outside the arena around 2 p.m.
“I’m happy people are going to get the chance to meet and hear from the president directly, without the media filtering it out,” Judy said.
Some people began lining up to see the president the previous night.
John Earnshaw and his 17-year-old son Jack, of Methuen, began waiting in line at 11 a.m.
“It’s a cultural experience” for his son, John said.
Jack was excited to see Trump, a president who “doesn’t owe anyone anything,” he said.
Dan Igoe of Andover, while waiting in line to see the president, pointed to the economy as one of the reasons he supports Trump.
“I love our president. He’s doing great things for the country and I support him 100%,” Igoe said.
The Rev. Sean Theodore, pastor of Abundant Grace Church in Derry, praised Trump for his support of religious freedom. He noted the conservative judges appointed by Trump.
“We want to stand up for the rights of our Constitution,” Theodore said.
John Kratz, also from Derry, wanted to show his support for the president’s views on the second amendment.
“The best way to enslave the citizens is to take away their guns,” the retired Marine said, alluding to a quote from colonial activist George Mason.
As Kratz and other Trump supporters moved through security and into the arena, protesters gathered.
Former Methuen resident Charleen Sardella, now of Berwick, Maine, said that although she totally supports Trump, she was OK with the protesters.
“Well, this is America,” Sardella said. “We all have a choice, we all have a difference of opinions. And that’s OK.”
Trump protesters did line the streets, accusing the president of being under foreign influence and breaking the law. One sign read, “Trump 2020. 20 for obstruction. 20 for treason.”
Protester Ginny Pickett of Newburyport said she believes that the Trump administration has brought corruption to a whole new level.
“I couldn’t look people in the eye anymore if I didn’t show up here. I’d be a hypocrite,” Pickett said.