New Hampshire Democratic voters say let Trump speak, activists say no

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MANCHESTER, N.H. — Anti-Trump activists are applying pressure to the arena where the president will speak Thursday, but the city’s Democratic mayor and voters on the street — honoring the Granite State’s tradition of listening to the candidates  —  say they want to hear him out on issues from guns to immigration.

As many as 11,500 Trump supporters are expected to fill the SNHU Arena for the 7 p.m. rally Thursday, while Democratic protesters plan to show up in force outside with a giant Trump baby balloon. But a social media campaign by progressive activists is urging Trump opponents to flood the arena management with phone calls, as well the arena’s sponsors — Digital Federal Credit Union, Coca Cola, Auto Fair and Southern New Hampshire University.

“We can’t stop him from coming, but we can let the SNHU Arena know that New Hampshire people do not want Trump’s message of racism and violence in our communities,” Maggie Fogarty wrote on Facebook Monday. “Call the SNHU Arena and any of their sponsors.”

“These rallies serve as a breeding ground for racism and bigotry that inspire white nationalist attacks like the one in El Paso,” said Erin Turmelle, Cory Booker’s state director. “They are despicable and have no place in New Hampshire, or anywhere in our country. That’s why Trump must cancel this rally.”

But Manchester Alderman Barbara Shaw, a Democrat, said she sees no reason to cancel the presidential event.

“This country was built on freedom of speech. Nobody should stop it from going on,” Shaw said. Though she added, “Hopefully he’s not extremely negative and stays away from name-calling people. I hope it’s positive messages, so we can say we’re glad he came.”

Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig, a Democrat, said she wants to hear Trump talk about issues that “we can work together on rather than on issues that further divide us.

“There’s many challenges we face that the President can assist with — combating the opioid epidemic, more federal funding for road and transportation projects, increasing federal support for more affordable housing options, and stronger support for our public schools,” the mayor said in a statement. “Our city and our country are stronger when we work together. While in Manchester, I hope that the President takes the opportunity to demonstrate how he can be a collaborative partner and work with us to address challenges we all face instead of focusing on issues that continue to divide us.”

And other self-identified Democratic voters told the Herald Monday they also want to hear what he has to say in Manchester.

Democrat Anne Belinsky, 72, of Manchester, said she wants to hear about “everything” from Trump, especially health care.

“It is always important for us seniors,” Belinsky said at the Airport Diner. “Our income is not increasing. Where do they think we’re gonna get the money to pay more for health care? It’s terrible.”

She added, though, “I hope to God he doesn’t get in again.”

Michael Bromley, 65, of Hudson, said he’d like to hear Trump talk about the opioid crisis — the biggest problem facing New Hampshire, in his view.

“It’d be nice if he localized and talked about what he can do to fix the drug problems here,” Bromley said.

Maureen Croteau, 61, of Northwood, said she’s hoping Trump talks about how he’s going to “get tough” on North Korea.

“He’s being too generous to them,” she added. “He just needs to do his job. That’s all.”

Jason Perry of the SNHU Arena said his office has been receiving a “limited number” of calls, and added,  “Being located in New Hampshire, the first in the Nation Primary state, we expect this as in the past we have hosted President Bush, Senator Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, amongst others.”

SNHU said it has no control over the arena’s bookings. Digital Federal Credit Union said in a statement: “We have sponsorships at a number of arenas and event venues across New England. These local venues host many events throughout the year, attracting a diverse group of attendees. We do not control or endorse the specific events that are held or booked at these venues.”