ATKINSON, N.H. — Donald Trump sought Friday to flip this state and pave a wider path to 270 electoral votes, reminding ardent supporters that he has achieved a “beautiful thing” by converting Americans who were wary of politicians.
“They loved the country as much as anybody . . . but they never saw anybody that they felt good about and they didn’t vote,” the GOP presidential nominee said outside Manchester, New Hampshire. “And now they go from that, they go from, before, a nonpolitical person to wearing Trump shirts and buttons.”
Trump fans at campaign events across the country have said his appeal lies in the fact that he’s a Washington, D.C., outsider.
But with New Hampshire residents set to vote Tuesday on Election Day — rather than casting their ballots early as in some other battleground states — Trump’s surrogates stressed the need to drum up support beyond his base.
They asked the rally attendees at the Atkinson Resort and Country Club to encourage their more dispassionate Republican friends to vote against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“You don’t have to forget, but forgive and go to the polls and vote for Donald Trump,” former Sen. Bob Smith (R-New Hampshire) said, taking the stage before Trump. “Do any of you really want to be responsible for letting this woman become the next president?”
New Hampshire GOP vice chairman Matt Mayberry said, “If you’re still sitting at home, saying, ‘I’m not sure,’ get over it. . . . The ‘never Trump’ needs to move over to ‘never Hillary.’ ”
The Granite State has voted for the Democratic presidential nominees in the past three cycles, but Trump has a 2 percentage point lead there over Clinton, according to an average of recent polls calculated by Real Clear Politics, and a Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll showed the candidates tied.
New Hampshire has just four electoral votes, the smallest share among this year’s swing states, but they are critical for Trump because political experts say Clinton has a considerably clearer path to the White House.
The Manhattan real estate mogul was to appear with Mike Pence in Manchester on Monday night. Clinton was due in the same city on Sunday.
Trump was to campaign in Ohio and Pennsylvania later Friday.
In Atkinson, he relied on the messages that regularly energize his backers, criticizing Obamacare as so dysfunctional it must be repealed, promising better trade deals that would preserve jobs domestically, and challenging Clinton’s trustworthiness.
Trump said Clinton’s presidency would be dogged by investigations into her use of a private server while secretary of state.
“How can Hillary manage this country when she can’t manage her emails?” he asked.
New Hampshire also has some of the nation’s most contested down-ballot races, and Mayberry, of the state Republican Party, told the crowd it is their responsibility to fend off Democratic control, especially in the U.S. Senate.
Mayberry urged voters to back GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who faces Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, and Republican New Hampshire gubernatorial candidate Chris Sununu, whose opponent is Democratic operative Colin Van Ostern.
Experts said they weren’t surprised that Trump didn’t mention Ayotte in his remarks, because the senator has disavowed him, but he also didn’t express support for and rally the crowd around Sununu or other GOP candidates in local races.
“It’s been kind of on-again, off-again, in terms of his down-ticket relationship with Republicans all over the place,” said University of New Hampshire political science professor Dante Scalia, “so I wouldn’t necessarily expect him to behave like a traditional standard-bearer would.”