DERRY, N.H. — While former President Donald Trump was in Concord filing his nomination paperwork with the New Hampshire Secretary of State, thousands of his supporters began to line up at the New England Sports Center to await his arrival.
The room where Trump would speak, a gymnasium covered in folding chairs, filled to capacity with “MAGA” bedecked voters well before the 45th president took the stage around 3 p.m. on Monday. Some chanted and danced in the aisles as they waited for the former president.
“Vote for Trump and solve your problems,” Trump told an audience of more than 2,500.
The former president seemed full of energy as he delivered a wide-ranging, nearly two-hour address that brought the crowd to its feet on several occasions. Trump more than once took specific aim at President Biden, who Trump said was left with a roaring economy that the current president has not maintained.
“I will end Joe Biden’s inflation disaster and we will quickly rebuild the greatest economy in the history of the world,” he said.
According to the former reality TV star, the war Israel is waging against Hamas and the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian military could have both been avoided, had Trump been elected to a second term in 2020.
The Associated Press reports more than 1,400 Israeli citizens were killed when Hamas launched a surprise attack against the U.S. ally on October 7. The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza claims over 4,300 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli Defense Force’s response, though those numbers have not been independently verified.
Russia has been waging a stalled war in Ukraine for more than 18 months.
Both conflicts would end swiftly if he returned to the White House, Trump told the Granite State crowd.
“I make this promise to you: as president, I will restore peace through strength,” he said. “Crooked Joe is not feared, he’s not respected, and he’s regarded by our enemies as a joke.”
Trump is by far and away the leading contender for the Republican nomination. According to recent polling he leads the closest contender, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, by about 50 points.
The 45th President officially added his name to the New Hampshire ballot on Monday, joining the likes of DeSantis, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.
The State’s Democratic leadership responded to Trump’s visit, the third to the first-in-the-nation primary state in as many weeks, with a morning press call in which they decried his brand of politics as at odds with voters in New Hampshire.
“At a time when our country confronts significant problems at home and around the world, and when our global leadership is as indispensable as ever, we need to be united. But Trump is incapable of bringing us together,” U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan said. “We are the Live Free or Die State: we have no use for a man who would overturn our elections or praise dictators. I know that as Granite Staters and Americans, we will reject Trump and we will win next November.”
Supporters cheer before Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally Monday in Derry, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)