Anyone who thought Donald Trump would mix up his repertoire during his big rally the night before the New Hampshire primary hasn’t been paying attention to what made him the Republican presidential front-runner here.
Although initially delayed by a snowstorm pelting the state, Trump arrived at Manchester's Verizon Wireless arena to fill what he called “the last lovefest” with New Hampshire voters with the notes he strikes at every event.
He promised to build a wall on the Mexican border. “Who the hell is going to pay for that wall?” he asked, and was drowned out by “Mexico!”
He said the victims of the Parisian terrorist attack would have been saved had France not strictly limited guns.
He accused American negotiators of being “political hacks” when drawing up trade deals he said were injurious to the country.
He said he would save Social Security, the 2nd Amendment, the ability to say “Merry Christmas” and healthcare, though he offered no details as to how.
“We’re going to have so many different options,” he said after vowing to "repeal and replace" Obamacare. “It’s going to be so much better.”
The crowds at Trump rallies are not there for the specifics. Many come because they’re upset by the state of the economy and problems they believe have worsened during President Obama’s tenure.
He reminded the audience that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a fellow Republican, had used her televised response to Obama’s State of the Union address to criticize Trump’s demeanor in the presidential race and to suggest that less anger and more problem-solving would be preferable.
“We’re not angry people. We don’t want to be angry,” Trump said, then immediately reversed himself. “We’re angry. We’re angry at incompetence.”
Apparently intending to go out on a positive note, Trump minimized the insults he often heaves at opponents, particularly former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
He mildly criticized Bush, reminding the audience of his support for the Common Core educational standards and his remark in 2014 that many immigrants who come to the U.S. illegally do so as an "act of love" for their families.
He raised Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s repetition of an anti-Obama line during Saturday’s debate. And he repeated an audience member’s vulgar assessment of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s opposition to waterboarding, which the U.S. defines as torture. (Trump said Sunday that he would condone the use of waterboarding and “worse than that.”)
Trump’s main mission Monday night was to remind the thousands gathered in the arena to vote, in order to avoid the same gap between pre-election polling and actual results that marred his Iowa showing last week.
He didn’t fixate publicly on his poll numbers, as is his habit, although he did remind the audience of thousands that he had drawn huge crowds during his campaign in South Carolina, Alabama and Texas.
“Tomorrow is going to be the beginning,” he declared. “I hear we have a lead; it doesn’t matter to me. I don’t even know what the hell the lead is ... you have to go out, you have to vote. “
“We have to have a great victory. We have to make America great again; we have to make America greater, greater, greater than it’s ever been before.”
Trump plans to spend Tuesday in New Hampshire, and is scheduled to appear Wednesday in South Carolina, where Republicans will next vote, on Feb. 20.