MANCHESTER, N.H. – President Donald Trump touted the nation’s economy during a rally in New Hampshire on Thursday 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, trumpeted the state’s low unemployment – New Hampshire had the fourth-best jobless rate in the country in June – as he underscored an economic message long central to his campaign.
“We are doing well with China despite the fact that they want to have you believe to the contrary,” Trump told an enthusiastic crowd packed inside the Southern New Hampshire University Arena. “The tariffs are working.”
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.
“Before the election, our factories were closing,” Trump said. “Today our nation is stronger than ever before.”
Trump’s message resonated with many in the audience.
“New Hampshire’s economy is thriving,” said Elizabeth Girarld, chairwoman of New Hampshire Young Republicans, pointing to lower unemployment figures under Trump.
Timothy Lahey, a 55-year-old from Massachusetts said the stock market slide is “just a little scare on the side of the Democrats wanting to believe there’s going to be a recession or something.”
“The economy is fantastic,” said Lahey, who works in the carpentry industry and was, attending his first Trump rally. “Everybody’s out and about.”
Marilouise Bunker, 68, an apartment manager from Connecticut, said the economy is “great” and credited Trump’s effort to cut federal regulations as the cause.
“The stock market goes up and down,” she said. “Something happens and they get scared and it crashes. It will come back.”
Around a thousand Trump supporters stood outside the 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.
“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 an 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, got a shout-out from stage.
Trump did not invite Lewandowski on stage as he has with others in the past.
“Corey Lewandowski loves your state, loves New Hampshire. I’m hearing he’s thinking about running for Senate from New Hampshire – I don’t know,” Trump said. “I think it’d be tough to beat. He’s going to do a job if he does do it. He would be fantastic.”
Some Republicans in the state have raised concerns about Lewandowski’s potential candidacy. Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, who was reportedly among the state officials voicing concerns about Lewandowski, met Trump at the airport and then attended 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 mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Trump has said he is optimistic for bipartisan gun control legislation, one of the nation’s most contentious issues.
Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., 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, a 71-year-old Massachusetts woman, 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 Democratic. 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.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump touts economy, Lewandowski during New Hampshire rally