WINDHAM, N.H. – Donald Trump continued to question Ted Cruz’s eligibility to become president and renewed his verbal assault on New Hampshire’s largest newspaper during a rally here on Monday.
“Whether you like it or not, Ted has to figure it out because you can’t be having nominee, if he got the nomination, I think I’m gonna win very solidly, if you want to know the truth. But if you get the nomination, you can’t have the person that gets the nomination be sued like Hillary might be sued,” Trump told the audience.
Cruz was born a U.S. citizen in Calgary, Alberta in Canada to an American mother, and experts are largely in agreement he is a “natural-born citizen” and could become president. Yet Trump has managed to work these questions into his dialogue with the press and with crowds recently, generally citing others, without having to outright question Cruz’s eligibility himself. Cruz is one of the few presidential candidates who have largely shied from attacking Trump, even when he is continually provoked to do so.
Wednesday was one of the smallest public crowds Trump’s seen in New Hampshire. About 600 people attended, and many were retired or worked jobs that allowed them to attend an 11 a.m. rally in the middle of the week.
Trump’s campaign speeches are often characterized as boisterous or even rowdy, yet at this event he was the recipient of a critique he probably doesn’t hear too often.
“Booooooring!” a man yelled while Trump was in the middle of talking about Syria. Trump reminded his crowd that he was going over a serious issue – “Nothing funny about this. You know, he wants jokes. There's nothing funny about this” -- and ordered the man ejected from the crowd. The man was seen being taken outside, wearing one of Trump’s signature bright red “Make America Great Again” hats.
Trump frequently talks on the trail about how much he would love to take on Hillary Clinton in the general election, but since he visited Bernie Sanders’ hometown of Burlington, Vermont, he’s taken to boasting of how much he’d like to face Sanders in the ultimate fight for the White House.
“I would love, please FBI, please go after Hillary,” he told the crowd. “I want to run against Bernie. Oh that's a dream come true.”
Trump has also been in a war with New Hampshire’s largest newspaper, the New Hampshire Union Leader, after the paper endorsed Chris Christie and the paper’s publisher Joe McQuaid ran editorials knocking the Republican front-runner. Trump consistently berates McQuaid on Twitter, and railed against him at a recent event in Nashua, and didn’t hold back from reminding the crowd how displeased he is with their hometown publication.
“Now you read about this little dust up with the, the famous paper, right. You know your little paper the Union Leader. No it’s really a dishonest paper, though. It’s terrible,” he said.
Despite the smaller crowd size, Trump still managed to charge up the crowd in the early state where he enjoys a significant lead. In the most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll, Trump holds the support of 30 percent of likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire, compared with Marco Rubio at 14 percent, Chris Christie at 12 percent, Ted Cruz at 10 percent, and John Kasich and Jeb Bush tied at 9 percent each.
New Hampshire is rife with independent voters who see themselves as unaligned with a particular party, and Nick Cimabella, a retired teacher from Windham, New Hampshire, is one of them and he took the opportunity to see Trump visit his hometown. He is leaning toward voting for Trump, though he is also considering Cruz, Clinton, and possibly Carly Fiorina. He likes Trump because “he doesn’t candy coat anything. If you like it, good. If you don’t like it, it’s no sweat on him.”
Lisa Veilleux, a nurse who lives in Windham, says she’s curious to research more about Cruz, but as of now, calls herself a “big supporter” of Trump. “Right now that’s where my vote stands,” she said. “It could change, but right now he has my vote.”