President Trump is planning to hold a rally in New Hampshire on the eve of the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary next month, people familiar with the campaign say.
The Feb. 10 rally will be held in Manchester, but the exact location has not been determined.
With Democratic presidential candidates needing all the attention they can get before a critical vote, Trump’s rally could be viewed as trolling his field of potential rivals.
There are just eight days between the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. As the calendar stands now, Trump will deliver his State of the Union address (as an impeached president) the day after the Iowa caucuses and try to garner a second night of news coverage with the rally in Manchester.
Trump will be on the New Hampshire primary ballot himself the next day, facing Republican competition from former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld and former representative Joe Walsh of Illinois. Polls suggest Trump is expected win big.
Trump’s campaign has already announced he will hold a similar rally in Des Moines in the week prior to the Iowa caucuses.
Trump’s last visit to New Hampshire was in August when he held a large campaign rally at the SNHU Arena in Manchester.
Traditionally, sitting presidents do not visit early primary states so close to their election dates unless they are facing a serious primary challenge.
Democrat Barack Obama and Republican George W. Bush sent surrogates largely to just comment on candidates from the opposing party.
However, during Bill Clinton’s 1996 reelection campaign, he headlined a state Democratic Party fund-raising dinner and held three campaign rallies all over the state in the week leading up to the primary.
While a big Trump win in the Republican primary appears all but certain, his prospects in the general election are less clear.
In 2016, New Hampshire gave Trump his narrowest loss in the country. His campaign manager has vowed to flip the Granite State to the Republican column, but his approval rating there — in the mid-30 percent range — means he is less popular there than in other swing states. Trump winning the state’s four electoral votes would also buck recent history: the Democratic presidential nominee has won the state six out of the last seven times.
That said, Trump will be returning to the state that delivered him his first election win ever. He won the 2016 New Hampshire primary by 20 percentage points. And the night before he held a raucous election eve rally in Manchester.