Donald Trump holds New Hampshire rally to tout economy amid market slide, recession fears

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President Trump renewed his attacks on the city of Baltimore at a rally in Cincinnati, saying homicide rate is higher than central American countries. AP

MANCHESTER, N.H. – President Donald Trump will hold a rally Thursday in New Hampshire to tout the nation’s economy even as investors skittish over the possibility of a global slowdown have roiled markets and put the White House on defense. 

Trump, who has visited the state only once before as president, is almost certain to harp on it’s low unemployment – New Hampshire had the fourth-best jobless rate in the country in June – to underscore an economic message central to his reelection.

But the president’s visit came as his administration has sought to distance itself from wild market swings caused in part by fears of a worldwide recession and global trade wars. The Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered its worst plunge of the year Wednesday, though the market returned to positive territory midday Thursday.    

“The Fake News Media is doing everything they can to crash the economy because they think that will be bad for me and my re-election,” Trump posted on Twitter. “The problem they have is that the economy is way too strong and we will soon be winning big on Trade, and everyone knows that, including China!”

Trump is set to take the stage in Manchester at 7 p.m. 

Trump campaign press secretary Kayleigh McEnany downplayed the recent stock market shocks, telling USA TODAY in an interview before the rally that the “the fundamentals of this economy are strong. There’s no denying that.”

Echoing Trump’s tweets earlier in the day blaming the media for the reaction to the market, McEnany called speculation about the stock-market dips as a sign of a looming recession “a media-driven narrative with no basis in truth.”

Around a thousand Trump supporters stood outside the Southern New Hampshire University Arena hours before the rally started. Chants of “USA! USA! USA” broke out and supporters listened to a country music band before the doors opened. 

Carolyn Sires, 57, a physical therapist who operates her own practice, pointed to the economy as a driving issue for her support of Trump even amid the recent stock market struggles. 

“I own a business in West Haven and I was really suffering and, not right away, but actually this year I feel it – the economy,” she said. “I’m giving not only raises and bonuses, I’m not worried anymore about making payroll. I’m not worried about giving incentive bonuses. I’m actually going to work without a worry and I love that.”

Tweets from New Jersey

The president is ostensibly on summer holiday at his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J., but the trip to New Hampshire marks his second major public event this week. He also traveled to Western Pennsylvania Tuesday for a raucous, rally-like event. 

He also has remained active on Twitter. In more than a dozen posts in the hours before the rally, Trump weighed in on the recent Philadelphia shootings, blasted two Democratic congresswomen he claimed “hate Israel & all Jewish people,” defended his China tariffs and called attention to a New York Times editor who had been demoted.

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“The United States is now, by far, the Biggest, Strongest and Most Powerful Economy in the World, it is not even close!” he wrote. “As others falter, we will only get stronger.”

Trump has also taken time in recent days to tout a ex-campaign aide who is now considering a run for Senate in New Hampshire. Corey Lewandowski, the first manager of Trump’s renegade 2016 presidential campaign, is planning to attend the rally.

“If he ran and won he would be a great senator,” Trump told a New Hampshire radio station, WGIR, in an interview before the rally.

Granite State headwinds 

The president narrowly lost New Hampshire to Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016. So far, the president has been more likely to travel to Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – where he won – than Minnesota, Maine and New Hampshire, where he lost.

On the other hand, Trump had a key primary win in the state in 2016 after placing second in Iowa. “You remember in the primary when I won New Hampshire?” Trump asked the local radio station. “That was really something special.”

Trump’s visit comes during a heightened national debate over gun control following the recent attacks El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Trump has said he is optimistic for a bipartisan gun control legislation, one of the nation’s most contentious issues. 

Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, both of whom represent neighboring states, also campaigned in New Hampshire this week. Twenty-one of the Democratic presidential campaigns signed onto a statement blasting Trump ahead of his visit. 

“Donald Trump’s presidency has been defined by broken promises, hateful rhetoric, and choosing to side with lobbyists and the top 1% at the expense of everyone else,” the New Hampshire directors of the competing campaigns wrote in the joint statement. “This week, when he comes to New Hampshire we expect more of the same.” 

A Granite State Poll conducted this month by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center found that 42% of New Hampshire adults approve of Trump and 53% disapprove. The poll showed nearly half approve of Trump’s handling of the economy.

Darlene Willey-Sliwa, 71, of Belchertown, Massachusetts, who owns a funeral home, said she was attending her eighth Trump rally, but her first since the 2016 cycle. After years of voting Democratic, she said she turned Republican three years ago with Trump.

She touted Trump’s “get-tough policy” on foreign affairs and trade along with his hard-line approach to immigration as some of her priorities. “I believe this man believes in that,” she said.

“The Democratic Party as I grew up and knew it does not exist anymore. It’s far too left wing, and there’s very little in the party that I can relate to,” Willey-Sliwa said.

She attended the rally with two others from Western Massachusetts who also said in 2016 they switched from voting Democrat. That includes Cinthia Demerski, 68, of Monson, Massachusetts, at her third Trump rally.

“I think it was a feeling of bringing the country back on track,”” Demerski said. “The work ethic. The American way. The Constitution. Conservative family values. And hard work ethics that we were getting away from.”

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