Hundreds of Donald Trump supporters received terrible news just moments before he took the stage in the gymnasium of a Nashua, New Hampshire, middle school: The event was over capacity.
Some had stood in the cold for more than 90 minutes, waiting to hear Trump talk about how he is going to Make America Great Again. They were grumpy, sad, frustrated, and, well, angry like the man they love. While they may have soured on the event, they did not give up hope that Mr. Trump, as they called him, would appear after the rally and speak to them.
While those who hung around for the Republican frontrunner had their various reasons for supporting him, only two things were universal among the faithful interviewed by The Daily Beast: They all more or less liked Sen. Ted Cruz as their second choice and they had not received any form of volunteer outreach from the Trump campaign.
Trump has shown he can draw yuuge crowds, but the question of whether he can actually turn these people out to vote remains unanswered. Trump’s unprecedented run for president has been marked by a blatant disregard for traditional—but essential—campaign busywork. While Trump is hosting rallies with thousands of attendees and calling Morning Joe every day, his opponents are begging people to show up at town hall function rooms and scrambling to get a half-dozen people to a phone bank.
Not one person interviewed Monday evening said the campaign had reached out to them to help Trump in New Hampshire by knocking on doors or making phone calls or asking them to drive people to the polls. Some received emails, but none could recall them being about volunteering for the campaign in the traditional get-out-the-vote sense.
Alex Demaio of Connecticut and Jocelyn Donlon of New Hampshire watched the Trump speech via a livestream on their phones in the cold outside the entryway to the school. Some huddled by them to listen to Trump blast Union Leader Publisher Joe McQuaid—who had the audacity to compare Trump to Back to the Future villain Biff Tannen on the front page Monday morning—among other things (China, Making America Great etc.).
“I like what he stands for. I am pro-life. I feel like illegal immigration is a very serious thing which has been overlooked for years,” Demaio said. “I also agree with the Muslim ban. I feel bad for the innocent refugees, but if out of a hundred refugees two of them are ISIS, that’s two too many that I don’t want to let in. It’s nothing personal,” he said.
During the interview, boos started to grow louder and louder from their livestreams as someone was ejected from the Trump rally.
Donlon, wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and cradling her smartphone, said she liked his speaking style and his personal backstory.
“One thing I like is he was able to build himself up. They say, ‘Oh, he’s not self-made, he was given money.’ OK, he was given a million dollars and turned it into $10 billion-plus. I am OK with that,” said Donlon.
On the campaign-outreach front, Donlon said she received weekly emails about “how the campaign is doing” but had not been asked to volunteer in any way for Trump.
Richard Pugliese stood pressed nearly against the glass of the school’s doors. A disabled veteran and resident of Atkinson, New Hampshire, Pugliese was one of the few who praised Trump for his policy positions and not his bluster or bravado on the stump.
“I liked him from the very beginning. I only care about results. I just want someone to do what they say they’re going to do,” said Pugliese.
Bryant Perry and Andreas Papafagos, both of Dracut, Massachusetts, came to see Trump because he “speaks the truth and isn’t bullshiting like everyeone else.”
For them, Trump’s brashness is a major part of his appeal.
“He’s honest. I like how upfront he is. You can trust him. He’s not just saying shit to make people happy. He’s real,” said Perry.
Oh, and the insults he dishes on the campaign trail, they love them.
“It’s hilarious. It’s awesome. No one else does it,” said Papafagos.