MANCHESTER, NH — New Hampshire handed Donald Trump a landslide victory Tuesday night in the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary. In the week leading up to his victory, Trump used sexist profanity in a speech to thousands of people, touted a health care policy favored by President Obama and Hillary Clinton, and enthusiastically endorsed the use of torture.
But none of that mattered to the thousands of people who packed into the event hall in the southern edge of Manchester to hear his victory speech, nor to the few dozen people who, when the venue was at capacity, spilled out into the dark parking lot outside, waiting for the chance to see the Donald.
As the temperature dropped well below freezing, those who voted for Trump on Tuesday were euphoric.
“He’s the whole package,” gushed Sandra Ierardi, a life-long Republican voter. “He speaks the truth. He doesn’t worry about offending anybody. He’s got the business sense. He’s just everything.”
Ierardi was joined by her husband Peter and daughter Alexis, who also voted for Trump.
All three said were not put off by Trump’s call for reviving the practice of “waterboarding and worse” against suspected terrorists, which would violate international law. “You don’t have to be the nice guy, you have to stand up for America,” Peter Ierardi said.
“America first,” chimed in Sandra Ierardi. “If you had a son or a daughter and ISIS was ready to chop their head off, what would you do? Would you be like, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry that happened.’ You’re going to want retribution. We need to save American people first.”
The family said they also supported Trump’s hard-line stance on immigration, saying they believed Trump would prioritize the needs of U.S. workers over undocumented immigrants. Peering out from behind a fur-lined hood, Alexis Ierardi, a student at Babson College, added: “It’s like on an airplane, where they tell you to put your oxygen mask on first before you help someone else. We gotta be able to breathe.”
Though New Hampshire has very few undocumented immigrants, the issue is resonating with many Republicans, who when speaking to ThinkProgress echoed verbatim Trump’s dire warnings about immigrants. Debra Keller, a dental assistant and stay-at-home mother and grandmother, told ThinkProgress outside a Trump rally in Plymouth: “They’re bringing in drugs. They’re bringing in violence. What is actually coming across the border? Pretty bad people, as Trump has said. If you want to come legally, we’d love to have you. But if you’re going to come be on the dole, and take away from people that live here, it just frustrates me.”
Immigrants are far less likely to commit crimes than U.S. citizens, and pay billions in taxes each year. Yet Trump tendency to inaccurately pin the nation’s problems — from heroin addiction to unemployment — on immigrants has stuck with voters like Derry resident Jay Davey.
“How many people have to get killed, how many women have to get raped? Where is that mile marker? Where’s that line in the sand when you wake the hell up?” he asked ThinkProgress. “We don’t need to play nicey-nice.”
But for Davey, it was the vast wealth Trump often brags about that won him over in the end.
“I looked up how much each candidate was worth, Democrat and Republican,” he said. “Trump is worth more than everybody else together. I have friends who say that’s superficial but it’s an ugly world that really is all about money, and we want someone who is going to figure out how to make this country make more money. Just looking at the spreadsheet, Trump can eat these other guys.”