Trump supporters call for New Hampshire GOP chair to resign

Story highlights

  • New Hampshire GOP chairwoman Jennifer Horn has criticized Donald Trump's rhetoric
  • New Hampshire GOP bylaws require that the party chair remain "strictly neutral" in the primary race

Derry, New Hampshire (CNN)Tensions between Donald Trump's campaign and the New Hampshire Republican Party have escalated to the point where the GOP front-runner's supporters are calling for the state party chair to be fired.

"I'm not sure if she's actually the chair of the Republican Party or the Democratic Party, attacking Republican candidates," Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told CNN after New Hampshire GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Horn criticized the candidate's rhetoric. "So it's very difficult to work with a GOP establishment when they don't believe that your candidate is the right one, and it's really shameful."
Horn had previously criticized Trump for his comments disparaging Fox News host Megyn Kelly and for criticism of Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, but in mid-November Horn went further and told the Boston Globe she did not expect Trump to win the important primary state.
    "Shallow campaigns that depend on bombast and divisive rhetoric do not succeed in New Hampshire, and I don't expect that they will now," Horn told the paper. "Big rallies are a lot of fun, but in New Hampshire, voters are looking to have that real conversation with a candidate."
    After Trump this week called for a ban on Muslims entering the country, Horn labeled the action "unconstitutional."
    "There are some issues that transcend politics. While my position is certainly political, I am an American first. There should never be a day in the United States of America when people are excluded based solely on their race or religion. It is un-Republican. It is unconstitutional. And it is un-American," she said in a statement.
    New Hampshire GOP bylaws require that the party chair remain "strictly neutral" in the primary race, and Trump's campaign argues that Horn has broken the rules.
    Trump supporters in the state are working to call a special state committee meeting before the primary in February to vote on whether Horn should resign. And an online petition circulated by the campaign calling for Horn to step down has drawn more than 1,000 signatures.
    "Everybody is entitled to have their own opinion, and if she wants to have her own opinion, that's great. Resign and you can have your own opinion all day long," Trump's New Hampshire campaign co-chair and State Rep. Steve Stepanek told CNN.
    Stepanek said that although he thinks Horn's comments are inappropriate, he doesn't think they are hurting the campaign.
    "Actually I think they've helped," he said.
    "People are sick and tired of people like Jennifer Horn in the party establishment who are trying to dictate to everybody who should and should not be running, and I think Donald Trump in his success and his popularity is an example that people are sick and tired of the political machines in both parties," Stepanek told CNN.
    State party spokesman Michael Zona told CNN that Horn is not resigning and that she was not in violation of the bylaws because she is not campaigning for any candidate in the primary.
    Even as the latest poll shows Trump leading his Republican rivals in the state by 15 points, there are Granite Staters who are backing Horn's stance.
    The Union Leader, the state's biggest newspaper, which recently endorsed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, told Trump's campaign to stop "whining" in a recent editorial.
    "Horn was right to disagree with Trump, and his campaign should stop whining about it," the editorial reads. "Horn is free to speak her mind, and stand up for religious freedom. She and the party aren't taking sides in the primary, and Trump will get a fair shot here in New Hampshire."