Nervous Republicans flip to New Hampshire in hopes of stopping Trump

They acknowledge Donald Trump’s dominance, however weary Republicans throughout New Hampshire — even contained in the governor’s workplace — are preventing to cease the previous president from profitable the first-in-the-nation main.

For now, nonetheless, they’re counting on little greater than hope and prayers.

Look no additional than Mike Pence, Trump’s former vp, who repeatedly appealed to voters’ religion this week as he tried to resurrect his anemic presidential marketing campaign whereas courting a number of dozen voters in a former state lawmaker’s yard.

“I truly do believe that different times call for different leadership,” Pence informed his modest crowd. “I know you all are going to do your job, because I have faith. I have faith in the American people.”

More than a dozen high-profile Republicans want to New Hampshire, the state lengthy identified for shining on political underdogs, to assist cease Trump’s march towards a 3rd consecutive Republican presidential nomination. But to this point, none has cracked the veneer of inevitability that has adopted Trump by the early states on the presidential main calendar regardless of — or maybe due to — his mounting authorized challenges.

A good portion of the Republican citizens stays open to a brand new presidential nominee with much less baggage than Trump. But months after lots of them entered the race, there’s little signal that the previous president’s rivals are breaking by.

The strongest Trump various on paper, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, has already begun to put off workers amid sudden monetary challenges and stagnant ballot numbers. Others have failed to interrupt out of the only digits in early polls. And as Trump braces for the opportunity of a 3rd legal indictment, his maintain on the celebration seems to be stronger than ever.

Pence, maybe greater than anybody, has been dragged down by the highly effective undertow of Trumpism that has reshaped the political panorama for a lot of the final decade.

Pence barely registered in a brand new ballot launched this week by the University of New Hampshire. And he admitted this week that he doesn’t but have sufficient donors to qualify for the opening presidential debate subsequent month, a unprecedented place for a former vp to seek out himself in. During a number of stops in New Hampshire this week, he appealed to voters to donate even $1 to spice up his numbers.

“Obviously, he needs he was doing higher,” said New Hampshire Republican Gov. Chris Sununu. “You’re not going to discover a higher character and a greater particular person than somebody like Mike Pence. He’s simply such a fantastic man. But his message, for no matter purpose, isn’t fairly resonating with of us.”

Pence has managed to draw the wrath of Trump loyalists and critics alike.

Among those who dislike Trump, Pence is viewed as a Trump acolyte who enabled his bad behavior for four years. And those who love Trump blame Pence for not blocking the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory on Jan. 6, 2021 — a power that the former vice president did not have.

Trump loyalists infamously chanted, “Hang Mike Pence” while storming the U.S. Capitol and his political standing within the Republican Party has never recovered.

“I think Mike Pence is genuinely destroyed,” said former New Hampshire GOP chair Jennifer Horn. “He cannot win. There’s no circumstance and no race that Mike Pence will ever win. It’s sad.”

New Hampshire, a state that has traditionally shied away from the type religious conservatism Pence espouses, would be an unlikely staging ground for a comeback for the evangelical Christian who launched his 2024 campaign in Iowa. Still, politicians of all stripes have managed to break through over the years in a state that has often rewarded those willing to invest time and attention.

Former President Bill Clinton became the “comeback kid” after finishing second here in 1992. The state also helped resurrect Republican John McCain’s struggling campaign in 2008. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a religious conservative like Pence, scored a strong second place finish in 2016.

Still, the road to relevance for anyone not named Trump in 2024 will be steep.

Pence is essentially trying to reinvent himself as he reintroduces himself to New Hampshire voters. He and his staff have embraced a new mantra: “He is well-known but not known well.”

At his first New Hampshire stop this week, Pence largely avoided talking about his years as vice president and did not utter Trump’s name. He introduced himself this way: “I’m Mike Pence. I’m from Indiana. And I’m running for president.”

Pence’s message on the stump is a throwback of sorts to the GOP’s conservative platform before Trump’s big-government populism took over.

He called for a muscular foreign policy, a recommitment to social conservative values and a sharp reduction in federal spending. He did not mention his support for a federal abortion ban. Breaking from Trump, he also endorsed changes to Social Security for people under 40 to ensure the government-backed safety net program is financially stable.

He spoke with authority, but Pence’s political challenges loomed over his New Hampshire tour.

The host of Wednesday’s event, former state Senate majority leader Bob Clegg, encouraged every attendee to donate $1 to the Pence campaign to ensure he reaches the 40,000 individual donor threshold set by the Republican National Committee to qualify.

“They can give more,” Pence quipped with a smile. He later added, “We’re working across the clock to ensure we get sufficient donors to be up on that debate stage.”

Despite some chuckles, Pence’s allies privately acknowledge that failing to qualify for the first GOP debate would be a political death sentence.

Pence’s national chairman, veteran Republican strategist Chip Saltsman, would say only, “We’re getting there” when asked how close the campaign was to the donor threshold.

Saltsman dismissed Pence’s struggles as a byproduct of the crowded field, which includes wealthy candidates like North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who offered donors gift cards, and others like DeSantis, whose allied super PAC raised more than $100 million.

“It’s a lot of ebb and flow,” Saltsman said. “And one thing I know for a fact is I haven’t seen a frontrunner in the summer make it to the Iowa caucus or the New Hampshire primary in the winter yet.”

Sununu, the New Hampshire governor, is also betting on the weight of history to help stop Trump. He noted that primary voters typically wait until a few weeks before the primary to finalize their decision.

New Hampshire’s primary is still six months away.

In an interview, Sununu warned that Trump has no chance of winning the general election and would drag down the rest of the party with him if he’s on the November ballot.

“I’m hoping that most people come to their senses,” Sununu said. “There’s still plenty of time for this roller coaster ride to play out.”

Meanwhile, Pence is in search of the help of the next energy.

“This is a nation of religion,” he informed the modest assortment of main voters gathered in Clegg’s yard. “If we will steer our party to a future built on those time-honored conservative principles that have carried our party to victory and to success for the American people over the last 50 years, and if we renew our faith in Him who has guided this great nation since they first set foot on Plymouth Rock — not too far from here — I truly do believe the best days for the greatest nation on earth are yet to come.”

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