After Iowa, Trump showing off effort to win in New Hampshire
LONDONDERRY, N.H. — With wet snow already ankle deep and falling fast, Dave Chiokadze and James Radcliffe trekked down one long driveway after another in search of potential votes for Donald Trump.
"It's like the Revolutionary War," joked Chiokadze as they made their way house to house along a Londonderry street, knocking on doors that were flagged by a smart-phone app and leaving long lines of footsteps in their wake.
The 22-year-olds, out-of-state volunteers involved in politics for the first time, are on the front lines of Trump's effort in New Hampshire, where the Republican presidential candidate is hoping for his first victory of the 2016 campaign in the state's primary on Tuesday.
Trump had a disappointing second-place finish last Monday in leadoff Iowa, which has a byzantine caucus process that puts a premium on organizing supporters to make sure they turn out. Now, he and his team are intent on making a greater push to get out the vote in the opening primary state
"Look, I've never done this before. I've been a politician for seven months. I'm against governors and senators. They've done it their whole lives," Trump said in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday. "It would seem to me that people would just go out and vote."
Trump said he "never realized" the need to encourage supporters to actually take part in the caucuses. "Now, I think we're going to have an OK ground game."
Or at the very least, one that Trump is willing to show off.
His campaign shrouded its Iowa operations in secrecy. In New Hampshire, it has opened the door to what appears to be more robust effort to ensure his legion of supporters becomes an army of voters.
At his state headquarters in Manchester, volunteers were hard at work on two recent weekdays. They made calls using an automated phone dial system in a room decorated with black-and-white photographs of the man they're working to elect.
Malcolm McGough, 58, a volunteer from West Hartford, Connecticut, said he had been working 13-hour days making calls.
"It's really about asking them whether they're going to get out and vote on Tuesday and whether they support Mr. Trump," McGough said. He said he had made 1,150 calls for Trump on Wednesday alone.
In a back room of the office, a white board displays ambitious goals for each day.
On Thursday, the team aimed to make 30,000 calls and knock on 2,500 doors. By early afternoon, campaign officials said they were partway to their goals. Their seven teams of volunteers sent to neighborhoods across the state had reported knocking on 823 doors so far.
"I think look, we'll take nothing for granted," said Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, a New Hampshire resident overseeing the effort. "We're going to do everything we can to try and talk to every voter possible."
Steve Duprey, a political professional in New Hampshire who helped shepherd GOP Sen. John McCain's winning 2008 campaign in the state, described the Trump ground game as "aggressive and sophisticated."
"I think they have a first-rate operation in New Hampshire and I think they were under the radar for a couple of months," Duprey said.
To be sure, Trump hasn't completely changed his approach in the wake of his Iowa defeat.
He skipped town for a rally in South Carolina on Friday and has largely forgone the small-scale town halls and meet-and-greets that are the usual fare for potential presidents in Iowa and New Hampshire. That's something some of his supporters in Iowa said was a hurdle to success there.
"It was challenging," said Iowa state Sen. Brad Zaun, a prominent Trump supporter. "Everybody talks about the 99 county tour. I think if we could have gotten him there more often, it would have increased his numbers. ... I wanted him to do smaller events. We could not get that done."
Still, Duprey cautioned against betting against Trump.
"Just because it hasn't been done this way before, doesn't mean it don't happen this time," Duprey said.
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