NH Republican primary voters show support for Trump with historic turn out

  • Republican Dave DeWitt of Dublin spends time outside of primary voting taking place in Peterborough on Tuesday to offer support to fellow President Trump voters. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce

  • Kyla Judkins of Temple came out to cast a vote for President Trump at the polls Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/12/2020 8:58:12 PM

Republican Dave DeWitt of Dublin spent time outside of primary polling sites in Dublin, Rindge and Peterborough on Tuesday with his “Trump-Pence Keep America Great!” signs. DeWitt said he wasn’t there to campaign so much as to give the “thumbs up” to fellow Trump voters.

“I love him. I think he’s great. I’ve got a lot of grandkids, I want them to grow up in a free country,” DeWitt said.

While much of the 2020 presidential primary media coverage has been focused on the Democratic primary, Republicans have been carrying out their own primary. And in the first two contests – the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary – President Donald Trump has been raking in historic numbers of votes for an incumbent president.

In New Hampshire, Trump won all 22 delegates up for grabs in the Republican presidential primary Tuesday. He garnered 85.5 percent of the vote, with 128,954 ballots cast for him. While this falls just short of Ronald Reagan’s 86.4 percent victory in the in his NH primary run as an incumbent in 1984, Trump’s New Hampshire win makes history with its number of votes for an incumbent president, the Associated Press says.

The only other candidate making a dent in the GOP primary Tuesday was Bill Weld, whose 13,700 votes, 9.1 percent of the vote, were not enough for him to win any delegates.

Unlike Iowa’s Feb. 3 Democratic caucus, the GOP’s Iowa caucus on the same day went quite smoothly. In Iowa, caucus-goers gave Trump 39 of the 40 delegates up for grabs with 31,464 votes, 97.1 percent, in the Iowa Republican Caucus. Weld only garnered 1 in Iowa with 426 votes, 1.3 percent.

This makes the current delegate tally: 61 for Trump and 1 for Weld.

Donald Trump clinching the Republican nomination seems a foregone conclusion right now.

“He’s basically running unopposed,” DeWitt said.

But turning out to vote for Trump in the primary is an important show of support, he said.

“I think a lot of Republicans – especially the group that I’m associated with – we feel that it’s important to get out in the primary to show the level of interest, by Republicans, in the upcoming election,” DeWitt said. “Granted he’s not really running against anybody. Just Bill Weld really. But I think it’s important to have a good showing. I mean, that’s what happened in Iowa. There was a tremendous showing of Republicans and it’s the same situation here.”

Trump’s impeachment trial that took place in the weeks preceding the NH primary probably drove many of these voters to the polls as well, DeWitt said.

“The base was furious about that. That was so partisan. It was all being done to hurt the president. And what they really hoped … it was to get him off the ballot in 2020, which is crazy when you think about it,” DeWitt said. “I think it was positive for Republicans and I think it was extremely negative for Democrats.”

In Hancock Tuesday, Hancock Republicans Chairman Erik Spitzbarth was standing outside the town hall when polls opened at 8 a.m., holding a thermos and a Trump campaign sign.

He had attended the packed Trump rally in Manchester the night before and was at the polls to show his support for Trump, he said. Spitzbarth said he has been doing outreach for presidential campaigns for a decade and for him educating voters is the best part of the process.

In Rindge, the drizzling rain didn’t deter Trump supporters outside the polls where “Trump/Pence” signs dominated the campaign area.

Andy Diperri of Rindge said he was among those who attended a rally in support of Trump in Manchester on Monday, which also included long waits in miserable weather.

“So this isn’t so bad,” he said, indicating the gray drizzle that hung over Tuesday’s voting.

Jim Qualey of Rindge was also out supporting the president for re-election. The booming economy and low unemployment rate were high on his list of evidence that Trump was still the man to support in the 2020 election.

Even the president’s rhetoric, often a point of controversy, is a selling point for him, Qualey said.

He said he doesn’t see anyone in the current line-up of Democratic candidates who might be able to challenge Trump’s candidacy in the November election.

In Temple, Kyla Judkins came out to cast a vote for Trump at the polls. Judkins, an undeclared voter who said she has voted Democrat in the past, said she wanted to support the president and exercise her right to vote.

“We live in this country,” Judkins said. “And to have a voice in this country, you need to stand behind everything that you believe in. If I didn’t vote now, and I only voted ‘when it counted,’ I feel like I’m only half in. I want to be all the way in.”

Judkins said that she thinks that the country needs to address the global climate crisis and she initially listened to what the Democratic candidates had to say on the issue, but once they pivoted from policy to attacks on the president, she was no longer interested.

“They started out, their campaign was all about global warming, how to make that our top priority, and now their top priority is beating Trump,” Judkins said. “I don’t want to hear why you have to get him out of office, I want to hear why you need to be in office. … I like the way that the country is heading, and I feel like we need to stick with the Republican party.”

Abbe Hamilton, Ashley Saari and Ben Conant contributed to this article.

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