Trump, Clinton Continue Campaigning Hard in New Hampshire

Trump and Clinton Continue Campaigning in New Hampshire

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The spotlight New Hampshire enjoyed during its presidential primary hasn't dimmed heading into the general election, despite the state's paltry four Electoral College votes. But the candidates differ significantly in how much they're sharing it.

Republican nominee Donald Trump has made seven trips to New Hampshire since June, including four trips in the last four weeks. Trump's running mate Governor Mike Pench is also making a trip. He recently announced a rally in Exeter that will take place Friday, October 21. Democrat Hillary Clinton's scheduled Monday visit will be her third since June, and in each case she shared or planned to share the stage with either U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont or Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, two liberal stalwarts.

But Clinton's hardly ignoring New Hampshire - she's sent high-profile surrogates including her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and first lady Michelle Obama to campaign on her behalf, and she's building a strong ground operation.

Aside from vice presidential nominee Mike Pence - who by Friday will have made three New Hampshire trips - Trump doesn't have nearly as deep a bench or as strong a ground game as Clinton. But he relishes in visiting the state, which offered him his first primary victory and set him on a course to capture the Republican nomination. He won the primary here with 35 percent of the vote.

"New Hampshire is a special place in my heart because this is where I won my first primary, right?" Trump opened to a cheering crowd in Laconia in mid-September.

And when it comes to a ground game, Trump doesn't have quite the infrastructure Clinton does. His campaign is relying heavily on the Republican National Committee to aid its get-out-the-vote efforts. He tends to see more value in large-scale campaign events than the details of building a campaign.

Mike Biundo, a senior adviser to Trump's campaign in New Hampshire, said Trump works "harder than anyone" to maintain a strong relationship with voters in the state.

"Unlike Hillary Clinton, he doesn't rely on surrogates to get his message out, he does it himself. Mr. Trump has a very good chance of winning New Hampshire, and he is committed to fighting for every vote here and around the country," Biundo said in an email.

The most recent Associated Press analysis of the Electoral College map shows New Hampshire leaning toward Clinton, and most public polling has consistently shown Clinton in the lead. The AP analysis ranks 76 votes as toss-ups, representing Nevada, Utah, Nebraska, Maine, Florida, Ohio and North Carolina. Even if Trump won them all, he'd still be four votes shy of reaching the 270 votes needed to win, unless he also flipped New Hampshire. Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral votes also lean Democratic but seem to remain in play.

In 2012, both President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney lavished New Hampshire with attention. Romney came back almost every month from April to November that year, while Obama made four trips in the last two months of the campaign. Clinton hasn't returned to New Hampshire solo since the primary, which she lost by double digits to Sanders. She has appeared with him twice and will be joined by Warren on Monday.

Clinton's running mate, Tim Kaine, has been in the state three times, Michelle Obama gave an emotional speech criticizing Trump in Manchester last week, Bill Clinton was in Hanover and Keene on Monday, and Vice President Joe Biden will be in Nashua on Thursday. Sending those kinds of popular surrogates is a sure-fire way to energize the state's Democratic base.

"Clinton is running a more traditional campaign. She is smartly using surrogates that are popular in New Hampshire with groups she wants to turn out in big numbers like young people, first-time voters, women and progressives," Lesperance said.

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley called Trump's strategy "superficial," saying he caters to "groupies" who come from out of state to attend his rallies. He noted Democrats have opened at least two dozen statewide offices focused on electing the entire Democratic ticket, not just Clinton.

New Hampshire has favored the Democratic presidential nominee in four out of the last five elections.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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