Donald Trump has a well-earned reputation for spouting falsehoods. In New Hampshire, even some of this most diehard fans are shaking their heads at his prevarications, including the lie that he has been repeating throughout the Granite State that Democrats are allowed to vote in the Republican primary. (They can’t.)
“You have a governor here that allows Democrats to vote in the Republican primary,” Trump said, falsely, at a rally in Manchester Saturday night, echoing the same lie he told on social media and on Fox News.
Trump “got that wrong,” admitted Greg, an ardent Trump supporter and former campaign volunteer in New Hampshire who waited outside in the subfreezing temperatures for about three hours to see Trump speak.
Greg was also perplexed by Trump’s assertion during his speech that “each drug dealer kills on average 500 people during his or her lifetime,” a claim of unknown origin that was previously debunked by the Washington Post.
About 600,000 people died of drug overdoses from 2010 to 2020, according to the National Institutes of Health. Doing the math, Trump’s statistic would suggest that there are only 1,200 drug dealers in the United States. But the federal government prosecutes nearly 20,000 drug traffickers a year.
“What, like every drug dealer is responsible for the death of 500 people? Really?” Greg, who was there with his wife, told me. “I sold drugs. Weed. Nobody died. Come on.”
Greg supports Trump because of his stances on border security and the economy, noting his electric bill under President Joe Biden was $300 this month.
Trump’s penchant for speaking off the cuff in speeches filled with spurious claims—Democrats steal elections and Nikki Haley wants to raise the retirement age for people nearing retirement, to name a couple—can certainly make for a fired up crowd, but his flair for fabrication may also alienate some of the voters who may otherwise support him.
Ross, a New Hampshire man who was turned away at a Trump event on Sunday night due to capacity limits, says he’s voting for Haley in the primary. One reason? Trump’s rhetoric. “I think she would be more measured,” he said.
John, a Nottingham, New Hampshire voter who has decided to support Trump on Tuesday said that he admired the former president’s “resilience” in continuing to campaign amid personal legal battles and that he supported Trump’s positions on immigration and the economy, the two most cited policy issues among the dozens of voters I’ve spoken with.
What John doesn’t love about Trump is “all the bluster—like all the tweets. I don’t like the fact that he has to answer everybody who pushes him. Sometimes you just gotta say, ‘That’s just noise.'”
“I think a lot of people would like to see [him] tweak back a little bit,” John added. “But that kind of makes Trump, Trump.”
Greg isn’t too worried Trump’s exaggerations will hurt his electoral odds. He does, however, have some sympathy for the Trump staffers tasked with keeping the candidate on message.
“The worst job in the Trump campaign? His speechwriter,” says Greg. “That guy’s got to be an alcoholic.”