Donald Trump set off a firestorm with comments on immigration
Supporters praise Trump as a straight-talker
Perched on a platform in a backyard where a few hundred supporters gathered around a swimming pool, Donald Trump shuffled a stack of papers and began shouting over a loudspeaker about rape.
“Eighty percent of Central American girls and women are raped crossing into the United States!” Trump boomed into the microphone Tuesday evening as he read from a printed news story in his hand. He held up the papers. “I have hundreds of these articles. Hundreds.”
“The American Dream is dead!” he continued, the sound of his voice slicing through the quiet afternoon air. “But I’m going to make it bigger, and better and stronger than ever before.”
Trump, the real estate mogul turned Republican presidential candidate, has, for the time being, captured the hearts and minds—or at least the attention–of GOP primary voters. A CNN/ORC national poll released Wednesday found Trump in second place behind former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the crowded field of Republicans seeking the White House.
Since announcing his campaign in June, Trump has attracted even more than his usual amount of controversy, particularly for comments he made in his announcement in which he called immigrants “rapists” and murderers. The remarks prompted Macy’s to drop Trump-related merchandise on Wednesday. Univision decided earlier to pull out from an agreement to broadcast Trump’s upcoming “Miss USA” pageant and NBCUniversal to drop him as one of their paid television personalities.
But while those comments may have complicated Trump’s financial relationships with media organizations, his bombastic style is precisely what draws his fans to support his White House campaign.
At the poolside gathering where Trump spoke, several supporters told CNN the same thing: They like him precisely because he says those things about immigrants — and no one else will.
“I like his aggressive approach to save America. Not taking any bullsh–t from anybody,” said Sally Bradbury from Merrimack. “Start taking our country back instead of letting people come in and control it.”
Bradburry was seated on the pool’s diving board next to her parents, including 89-year-old Frank Candelieri, a World War II veteran who said he fought in the Battle of the Bulge.
“I like what he’s saying. We need somebody who’s aggressive,” Candelieri told CNN. “No pussy-footing around. He gets right to the point. We need somebody who’s going to take the damn reins and ride it.”
Other supporters said they’re drawn to his bravado and tough talk about other countries, particularly regarding trade with China, a nation he mentions regularly in speeches.
“He’s more into a– kicking than a– kissing,” Helen DePrima told CNN.
Trump, who claims he’s worth about $9 billion, has made a point to say that he will self-fund his campaign instead of seeking financial support from donors.
“He doesn’t need anybody’s money. He doesn’t need lobbyists. He’s a self-made billionaire,” said Felicia Elias, who drove across the border from Massachusetts to see Trump speak. “He’s a businessman, and we need a businessman. Or woman.”
Unfortunately for other candidates wooing New Hampshire voters, Trump’s call-it-as-he-sees-it style could easily suck oxygen away from their campaigns, particularly New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was holding his own New Hampshire townhall at the same time.
So when given a choice between two so-called straight-talkers, why go with Trump over Christie?
“He’s faltered too many times. He doesn’t control his people. Look back at Bridgegate,” said Bob Kollman, from Nashua. “Why someone took that liberty is beyond me.”
Others said they were unimpressed by how he handled Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
“He hugged Obama,” said Carl DePrima, referring to the time Christie greeted the president in the aftermath of the storm. (Christie has disputed the characterization of the as a “hug,” but the narrative seems to have stuck.)
While Trump enjoys his high ranking in the polls here, Christie faces an uphill battle in the Granite State. A CNN/WMUR New Hampshire poll of primary voters found that just five percent of voters in the state planned to support Christie. The survey put Trump in second place behind former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush with 11%.