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Calling Protesters 'Thugs' And Biden Extreme, Trump's Bombastic Campaign Returns

President Trump addresses supporters during a campaign rally at Manchester, N.H. during the ongoing pandemic.
Saul Loeb
AFP via Getty Images
President Trump addresses supporters during a campaign rally at Manchester, N.H. during the ongoing pandemic.

President Trump on Friday struck a markedly different tone at a New Hampshire rally as compared his address to the Republican National Convention the night before.

Speaking to a crowd of a few hundred supporters in Manchester, Trump returned to his trademark bombastic, free-wheeling campaign style as he echoed many of the same themes he broached during his convention acceptance speech — warning of a looming "socialist" threat and bashing his 2020 rival Joe Biden.

"I gave a big speech last night. I said, 'What am I doing tomorrow night?' 'You're going to New Hampshire. But, sir,' " he said, recreating a supposed conversation with a member of his staff before being interrupted by cheers.

"'But sir, we can cancel New Hampshire. Because, you know, you had a big night.' I said, 'Are you crazy? I don't have that courage to cancel New Hampshire.' I gotta win New Hampshire, and I love the people. And you've been very good to me," he said.

During his remarks, Trump repeated attacks toward his opponent Biden, describing him as a far-left extremist, and stepped up criticism of Biden's running mate, Kamala Harris — the first Black woman and first Asian-American vice presidential nominee on a major party ticket — as incompetent.

"Joe Biden is running on the most extreme far-left platform of any nominee in American history. And if our foreign adversaries were devising a plan to destroy the United States from within, all they have to look is at Biden-Harris — how bout her? Is she a beauty? What a beauty that is," he said as the crowd jeered.

"They pick a woman who starts off — she starts off sort of strong. She's one of the favorites. Within a few months, she goes down, down," he said.

"She was terrible. And this would be your president? Possibly? I don't think so. You know, I want to see the first woman president also, but I don't want to see a woman president get into that position the way she'd do it. And she's not competent. She's not competent," Trump said.

Revving up his supporters with an image of a Democratic-led city overrun by "thugs," Trump also criticized Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser for her handling of a peaceful protest outside of the White House Thursday night that went on during Trump's convention speech.

"What I didn't like it — you saw this, right? When it was over? You saw when it was over? The thugs outside. Because the Democratic mayor of Washington, D.C. — it's another Democrat that's not believing in law and order. And you know we give Washington, D.C., a lot of money to run it. But they don't do a good job of running it, the mayor. She doesn't run anything. These incredible people from all over the country, all over the world that were there last night, they walked out to a bunch of thugs. And that wasn't — remember this, that wasn't friendly protesters. They were thugs. They were thugs," he said.

Trump also exaggerated a situation involving Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who was approached by protesters while leaving Thursday night's convention. Demonstrators demanded accountability from the police officers who shot and killed 26-year-old emergency medical technician Breonna Taylor in her Louisville home after they executed a no-knock warrant at the wrong apartment.

"When a senator like Rand Paul walks out — and thank God we had some good police around him, and they took tremendous abuse. And Rand Paul was in big trouble last night. He's a good guy, he's a friend of mine. And that shouldn't happen to anybody," Trump said.

Trump delivered remarks to a tightly packed crowd, many of whom were not wearing masks, despite the fact that the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus has exceeded 180,000. When attendees were told to put on face masks in an announcement, a requirement in New Hampshire for gatherings larger than 100 people, the crowd booed.

Timothy Parnell, an engineer who was in the crowd, says Democrats' criticism of Trump's handling of the coronavirus is absurd.

"The only way the president could have done better if he was psychic," he said. "He took advice from the scientists he asked for advice. I don't remember when time when he didn't follow what they were asking him to do."

Melissa Cote of Fitchburg, Mass., believes Trump's patriotism alone warrants him getting another term in the White House.

"The world is not what it used to be but one thing I love about President Trump – he is all American, he loves our country," she said. "Biden? He loves himself."

NHPR reporter Josh Rogers contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Alana Wise joined WAMU in September 2018 as the 2018-2020 Audion Reporting Fellow for Guns & America. Selected as one of 10 recipients nationwide of the Audion Reporting Fellowship, Alana works in the WAMU newsroom as part of a national reporting project and is spending two years focusing on the impact of guns in the Washington region.
Alana Wise
Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.