ATKINSON, N.H. — Who goes to a Donald Trump event before the sun comes up?
A crowd of professionals, tradesmen, retirees, students, and starfuckers packed a large function hall at the Atkinson Country Club and Resort in Atkinson, N.H., on Monday to see the presidential candidate deliver a 35-minute barnburner of a speech.
They clutched coffee that was either from a Dunkin Donuts up the road or from the free stand near the function room. They were dressed in work boots, dress shoes, high heels, sneakers, flats, and at least one person was wearing Birkenstocks.
They were there early to hear Trump speak before he arrived because, according to one attendee who declined to give The Daily Beast his name, Trump supporters “have jobs to get to, unlike Hillary voters. Oh, and she should be in prison.”
Trump’s remarks and delivery certainly appeal to this way of thinking. He’s like the new version of New Hampshire favorite John McCain’s Straight Talk Express—only louder and crazier.
Trump’s loud brashness and brute populism play well in New Hampshire where the culture wars are different than in Iowa. Voters at town halls and forums here are far more crass than they are in the Hawkeye State. Perhaps that’s the influence of the region’s capital, Boston, rubbing off on its Live Free or Die neighbor.
That strong contempt for the D.C.-New York nexis and dynastic politics was pervasive throughout attendees. These are people who probably never ride on the Acela Corridor or know what the Quiet Car is much less care about Chris Christie’s latest gaffe.
“We’re tired of the politically correct rhetoric and bullshit and lies. It’s time not for Obama change but a change in government,” said David Brown, 55, of Freemont, N.H.
Nearly every voter The Daily Beast talked to in Atkinson said their second-favorite anti-establishment flavor of the summer fall was retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Some, too, expressed disappointment with Trump’s strong words for Carson in light of two recent Iowa polls that showed Carson ahead of The Donald.
Chris Mastriano, 50, a car dealership owner, said he likes Carson but thinks Trump is the man to lead the country because of his no-nonsense approach and business experience.
“What better person to run this country, to be the CEO of this country, than Donald Trump? If you were starting a business wouldn’t you hire him to lead it?” said Mastriano.
Still, Mastriano said, it would not hurt Trump if he dialed his rhetoric back just a scoach.
“He needs to chill out. He does say some things I don’t agree with but I think that’s small for what he could do for this country,” said Mastriano.
Jeff Nadeau bounded into the Trump rally with a big smile on his face and a well worn paperback copy of the Art of the Deal in his right hand.
“He tells it like is, nobody can buy him off. He speaks his mind whether it’s politically correct or not. I think his interests are in the best interests of the country,” said Nadeau, 50.
Outside the event one woman, who gave her name as Jocelyn, said, sincerely, that Trump will Make America Great Again.
When pressed on what that means, she said “We’re sick and tired of all the crap that’s going on in this country. We like the years of the ’80s and ’90s, everyone had great spirit for the country, Fourth of July’s were awesome, and since then everything has gone down the toilet.”
Trump rarely tossed the crowd red meat to anger them and instead delivered zingers that made the event feel more like a populist Andrew Dice Clay-style comedy show on Hampton Beach.
His speech consisted primarily of boasts, the latest polls, how everyone running for presidents sucks except for him, and his Trumpist foreign policy, which is really nothing more than imperial mercantilism.
Trump trashed presidential also-ran Jeb Bush and the foreign policy choices of his brother, George. He casually touched 9/11 Truther territory by incorrectly referencing the travels of the Bin Laden family in the United States around the time of the attacks.
“And by the way, just so you understand, the families of the animals that knocked down the World Trade Center were put on airplanes the day before the event and they went over and back to a different country. You know what the country was, it wasn’t Iraq, it was Saudi Arabia,” said Trump.
Heads nodded in the crowded hall, this wasn’t something to laugh about. One man even grumbled, “Saudi Arabia.”
The reaction to his strong criticism of American foreign policy under George W. Bush received muted applause unlike his complaints about Barack Obama. Trump’s willingness to openly criticize the foreign policy failures of the Bush years clearly bothers some of the more mainline Republicans in the room getting their first up close and personal taste of the candidate.
At Trump rallies, his biggest applause lines appear to come from when he rails against illegal immigration; it is, after all, the signature issue that propelled his candidacy to the top of the polls.
But for whatever reason, Trump barely mentioned immigration near the end his stump speech and it only came up briefly during his town hall meeting with The Today Show’s Matt Lauer.
In an unusual move, he tried to tailor the immigration issue to a situation plaguing all of New England.
“You have a big heroin problem here and that heroin is coming from the southern border and we’re going to stop it,” said Trump.
The note fell flat.
When pressed on how he would actually implement his immigration plans, he spun his wheels, unable to give on a concrete explanation. Of course, he did it with Trump’s trademark dismissive confidence.
“Oh, you’re going to vote for me,” said Trump when Maureen White, a registered Republican, finished asking him about what he would “specifically” do to solve the country’s immigration problem.
When Trump finished answering it with a word salad of walls and trade deficits, she was not impressed.
“Did he answer your question?” asked MSNBC personality Willie Geist, calling her back to the microphone.
“Not quite,” she said.