Former president Donald Trump is scheduled to return to New Hampshire for the first time since 2020 in an attempt to jump-start his 2024 campaign and get a leg up on would-be challengers.
Trump will be the keynote speaker Saturday at the New Hampshire Republican Party’s annual meeting, according to chairman Stephen Stepanek. Trump, who announced his third run for the presidency on Nov. 15, will speak to hundreds of the most active Republicans in the state, who will gather to elect statewide party officials.
“We are excited to welcome President Trump back to the Granite State to be the keynote speaker at our 2023 annual meeting,” Stepanek said in a statement Monday. “President Trump has long been a strong defender of New Hampshire’s First in the Nation primary status and we are excited that he will join us to deliver remarks to our members.”
Trump’s appearance in Salem, N.H., would be his first in-person event outside his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida since he launched his 2024 campaign in mid-November. He is expected to depart the New Hampshire event and immediately travel to South Carolina where he is set to announce the leaders of his campaign, including Senator Lindsey Graham and Governor Henry McMaster.
In New Hampshire, Stepanek, the outgoing chairman, will oversee his final annual party meeting. He was among state party leaders around the country who rose as Trump foot soldiers in 2016 to run the Republican Party apparatus. Stepanek was one of the state co-chairs for Trump’s first campaign and hosted Trump at his home.
Trump eventually won the New Hampshire primary in 2016, his first-ever election win. From there, he began to steam toward the Republican nomination and the presidency. That said, Trump also lost New Hampshire in the general election in both 2016 and 2020.
In the early lineup of presidential primary contests, it is unclear which state is most important to Trump. The Iowa caucuses, the first contest, could provide an opportunity for a social conservative to flank Trump on the right. New Hampshire, meanwhile, could be the place where he is challenged from his left by moderates like former New Jersey governor Chris Christie. Following that contest will be the South Carolina primary, which could be especially complicated with Senator Tim Scott and former governor Nikki Haley both potentially seeking the nomination.
Trump has long had an affinity with New Hampshire — as a potential candidate and later as a candidate. Republicans will probably make the argument on Saturday that they will hold the nation’s first presidential primary in 2024, and top candidates are showing up to campaign.
That will probably not be the case with Democrats, after the Democratic National Committee proposed ending New Hampshire’s century-old first primary status so that South Carolina can hold the first contest. New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley revealed in a podcast over the weekend that President Biden won’t even put his name on the ballot in N.H. if the state doesn’t relinquish its first-in-the-nation primary status.