The people waving placards lined up to see Donald Trump enjoy his outspokenness - his willingness to speak his mind. Only he, they insist, and not those professional politicians, can turn the country around.
On Sunday, the billionaire and his circus headed north to the snow-bound fields of Plymouth to boast about his calls for water-boarding and “a hell of a lot worse”, and to poke fun at his political opponents.
“Did anyone see the debate last night? It was good, huh,” Mr Trump began his address in a sports arena at Plymouth State University. “There was one pundit who doesn’t like me. And he said I won. He was almost in tears.”
With barely a pause, he then turned to one of the most controversial aspects on Saturday night’s debate, the final one before voters in New Hampshire goes to the polls on Tuesday.
“Did you hear my answer on water-boarding? When I thought I about water-boarding I thought ‘we’re living in medieval times’. They are chopping off heads. In the Wild West you used to get shot, but they did not cut off heads.”
He said as president he would be ready to authorise a lot more than water-boarding. He said it was not politically correct to say so, “but we don’t want to be politically correct.”
“They are ready to do such horrible things. When they are ready to fly planes into the World Trade Centre, when they ready to fly planes into the Pentagon…when they have this kind of hatred…” he added.
“And you know they’re looking at us and they’re laughing at us worrying about water-boarding.”
Over the course of the next 40 minutes, Mr Trump turned his attention to his Democratic challengers, his rivals among the Republicans, whom he criticised and laughed at. Among those he targeted was Jeb Bush, who has been campaigning in New Hampshire with his mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush.
“Mummy ‘don’t walk in the snow’,” he said, supposedly imitating the former Florida governor. “I actually like his mother, but we have to do it on our own.”
Ever since the 69-year-old declared last June that the was officially running for the White House, Mr Trump has ridden a wave of media attention by saying controversial comments that many have deemed offensive and even racist or Islamophobic.
Yet every time observers predicted his poll numbers would fall, they continued to rise, as he tapped into public anger and connected with people who felt that ordinary politicians had done little for them. A number of people who have expressed support for Vermont governor Bernie Sanders have also said they admire a lot of what Mr Trump says, a seemingly odd situation until those people talk about similar feelings of anger and frustration.
Mr Trump has also positioned himself as an economic nationalist, something that has opened him to criticism from those who support free trade but which has allowed Mr Trump to claim he is simply trying “to make America great again”.
“He is someone who is trying to create jobs,” said Curtis Ellis, executive director of the lobbying group American Jobs Alliance.
Among those attending Mr Trump’s rally on Sunday were the curious and the undecided. A lot of them were students from the college.
There were also those who have decided that Mr Trump is their best option.
Toby and Wendy Shaw were standing with a Trump placard and said they were tired with what had happened to the country. How long would people keep on voting for the same politicians only for nothing to change, they asked.
“People are fed up with the lies,” said Mr Shaw. “How many years have we had these politicians? It’s time for someone with a backbone to stand up and do what needs to be done.”
Mr Trump spoke for around 40 minutes, the only real interruption being one young man who took of shirt to reveal the words “Trump is racist” and who was taken out by security.
After berating the administration of Barack Obama, blasting the security arrangement with Japan and rounding on any of a dozen issues that he deemed were just “crazy”, Mr Trump finished his rally with a dash of political incorrectness that delighted many of those listening.
“Make sure you vote on Tuesday. There are a lot of politicians who say it doesn’t matter who you vote for, as long as you vote,” he announced.
“But that’s not me. If you’re not going to vote for me then don’t bother voting.”Reuse content