President Trump on Thursday night called a Woburn man and offered thanks for “helping him out” during a campaign rally earlier in the evening in Manchester, N.H., the man said Friday.
Initially, however, Trump had mistaken the supporter, Frank Dawson, 64, for a protester and told the crowd Dawson had “a serious weight problem. Go home. Start exercising. Get him out of here, please,” according to published reports.
Dawson told the Globe on Friday that Trump left him a voicemail message while Dawson was still at the arena in Manchester. There was no cell service inside, Dawson said, so he missed the call and heard the message later.
Dawson, a retired deputy US marshal, described the message as “a personal call to me from the president of the United States” that should remain private, though he agreed to summarize Trump’s remarks.
“He thanked me for helping him out last night,” said Dawson, who also served in the Navy.
Dawson said that as protesters were being escorted out of the rally Thursday, he ripped a couple of their signs away and threw one over a balcony, prompting a “rousing round of applause from everybody there. It was the right thing to do.”
Soon after he did it, Trump made his crack from the stage about the “guy” with a “weight problem.”
Dawson said Friday that he didn’t hear that remark because he had “tunnel vision” while dealing with the protesters. And even if Trump’s joke was directed at him, Dawson said, “it wouldn’t really matter. He’s still my president. I love the guy. I love what he’s doing for this country. . . . If President Trump gets good press out of it, I love it.”
As for the demonstrators, Dawson, who described himself as “pretty much a law and order guy,” said he “reacted to what I perceived as, not really a threat, but more of a nuisance.”
If the protesters “want to badmouth [Trump],” he said, then they should “do it on their own time.”
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Christina Prignano of the Globe staff also contributed. Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.