(CBS News) – President Trump held a rally Monday night in New Hampshire on the eve of the state’s primaries, the first since he was acquitted on two articles of impeachment. The president tried to rattle Democrats’ nominating process by urging New Hampshire independents to vote Tuesday for the “weakest Democrat.” Independents are allowed to vote in either party’s primary.
Mr. Trump also took aim at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying she was “mumbling” behind him during the State of the Union address last week, calling it “very distracting.” He did not mention Pelosi tearing up a copy of his speech. He also celebrated his “total acquittal” in the impeachment inquiry while targeting the Democrats who tried to remove him from office.
Turning to Iowa, the president mocked Democrats for bungling the results of the state’s caucuses: “Does anyone know who won Iowa?” he asked. “I don’t know.” He added, “I think they’re trying to take it away from Bernie [Sanders] again. I think Bernie came in second, can you believe it?”
Monday’s rally was held before a sold-out crowd of thousands at a downtown Manchester arena, according to The Associated Press.
“We have more in this arena and outside of this arena than all of the other candidates, meaning the Democrats, put together and multiplied times five,” he said, prompting cheers.
Also on the president’s mind at the rally was the coronavirus outbreak and its rising death toll. Mr. Trump said he has spoken with China president Xi Jinping about the country’s response. “They’re working very, very hard and I think it’s going to all work out fine,” Mr. Trump said. The president said he thinks the virus might go away when the weather warms up in spring. “Hope that’s true,” he said.
All eyes will be on New Hampshire on Tuesday night. CBS News’ latest poll shows a close race between Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, the candidates who finished at the top of the Iowa caucuses last week.
In the CBS News Battleground Tracker poll released Sunday, Sanders had 29% support, compared to Buttigieg’s 25%. The former South Bend, Indiana mayor’s support has shot up since January — his numbers are 12 points higher going into the primary.
Mr. Trump will be on the GOP primary ballot, facing former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld and former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh, although Walsh dropped his presidential bid last week. In 2016, he won the GOP New Hampshire primary, although he lost the state to Hillary Clinton in November.
Mr. Trump last held a rally in New Hampshire in August, attracting a large crowd at Southern New Hampshire University. As was the case Monday night, Mr. Trump also touted the strength of the economy as one of the primary arguments for his reelection.
Arden Farhi and Peter Martinez contributed to this report.
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