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WINDHAM, N.H. — Donald Trump, packing his usual arsenal of barbs against the Granite State's largest newspaper and against a top rival for the Republican presidential nomination, held an unusual morning rally Monday at this wealthy, Republican-friendly community near the Massachusetts border.

Around 550 people attended the conference center speech, according to the local fire marshal, with many walking more than a mile in the cold because parking was scarce.

His targets included Senator Ted Cruz, with Trump saying the Texas senator would have to answer questions about whether he is eligible to run for president because he was born in Canada. Cruz's parents were US residents at the time of his birth; many legal scholars have said he meets the constitutional criteria as a natural-born citizen to run for president.


Trump, however, said that Democrats would file a lawsuit contesting Cruz's eligibility.

"It is not a settled matter," Trump said. "You can't have a nominee who will be subject to not being the nominee."

Trump and Cruz are nearly tied in recent surveys of the Iowa caucuses, which come eight days before the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 9. A NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday showed Cruz leading Trump, 28 percent to 24 percent, among likely caucus-goers.

In New Hampshire, Trump holds a more dominant position, having led polls of the GOP primary in the state since July. A Monmouth University poll of Granite State Republicans released Monday gave Trump a nearly 20-point lead over the rest of the field.

Also during his visit, Trump took on more local targets. He renewed his criticism of the New Hampshire Union Leader, which he called the "Useless Leader." The newspaper endorsed Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey last year, and its editorial page has frequently criticized Trump.

On Sunday, ABC News said it was dropping the Union Leader as a co-sponsor of the New Hampshire Republican debate on Feb. 6.


Trump also directed strong words toward former New Hampshire governor John H. Sununu. In a column in the Union Leader last week, Sununu urged New Hampshire voters not to "drink the Kool-aid" from Trump.

"Can you believe this guy?" Trump said about Sununu, who resigned as President George H.W. Bush's chief of staff in 1991. "He was fired like a dog and he doesn't even realize it."

The Monday morning rally was not as raucous as his other campaign events. Around 36 minutes into his speech, two audience members were removed after shouting, "This is boring! Tell some jokes!"

Trump is expected to return to the state on Saturday.

James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell, or subscribe to his daily e-mail update on the 2016 campaign at bostonglobe.com/groundgame.