Trump’s an infrequent visitor in this key primary state, but his campaign insists they’re ‘hammering it’

Former President Donald Trump returns to New Hampshire on Monday for his first visit in two months to the state that holds the first primary and second overall contest in the Republican presidential nominating calendar.

Trump will headline a campaign event at the Kingswood Art Center in Wolfeboro, in the state’s lakes region. The former president may very well make another stop after his event in Wolfeboro.

It’s Trump’s first trip back to New Hampshire since headlining an event at Windham’s high school on Aug. 8. 

While the former president hasn’t spent nearly as much time in the Granite State compared to his rivals for the GOP nomination, Trump remains the commanding frontrunner in the latest Republican presidential primary polls in New Hampshire.

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Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event on Aug. 8, 2023, at Windham High School in Windham, New Hampshire. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

And when it comes to the all-important ground game efforts, his campaign touts that “we are miles ahead of everyone else.”

“We’ve been just hammering it as far as grassroots is concerned,” Steve Stepanek, the Trump campaign’s senior adviser in New Hampshire, told Fox News.

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The Trump campaign announced their New Hampshire grassroots leadership team in late June. It included 10 county chairs, four city chairs, and over 200 town chairs.

“We’ve been doing a ton of door knocking, a ton of phone calls,” said Stepanek, who is a former state representative and 2016 Trump campaign co-chair in New Hampshire who went on to chair the state GOP until early this year. “Getting a huge response, especially on the doors.”

Donald Trump in New Hampshire

Former President Donald Trump gave the headline address at the GOP annual meeting, in Salem, New Hampshire on Jan. 28, 2023. Trump was joined by then-outgoing GOP chair Steve Stepanek, right, who has joined Trump’s campaign as a senior adviser in the first primary state. (Fox News – Paul Steinhauser)

The Trump campaign would be expected brag about efforts in the state that gave the then-first-time candidate his initial victory in the 2016 cycle, boosting him toward the GOP presidential nomination and eventually the White House.

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But even a neutral observer sees strength in Trump’s ground game.

Greg Moore, a veteran conservative activist in New Hampshire and longtime state director for Americans for Prosperity, tells Fox News that “there’s no question that Donald Trump has a robust organization here in New Hampshire.”

“When you run multiple times, one of the big benefits is you build up a strong list of people and strong relationships with people that you can go back and tap in the future. Trump’s rivals, other than Gov. Christie, don’t have that advantage. They started from scratch. And for those folks, they have to start building at a level that’s a lot lower than what Donald Trump began with.”

Trump supporters in Concord, NH

Supporters of former President Donald Trump gather outside the Grappone Conference Center in Concord, New Hampshire, ahead of Trump’s arrival, on June 27, 2023. (Fox News – Paul Steinhauser)

While the Trump campaign in New Hampshire appears to be firing on all cylinders, Moore also complimented the operations supporting first-time candidate and multi-millionaire biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

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“Vivek Ramaswamy’s campaign as well as the Ron DeSantis aligned super PAC Never Back Down are building up robust campaign operations that can really support what they’re trying to accomplish,” he said.

But with just three and a half months to go until the likely date of the New Hampshire primary, Moore warned that “some of the other campaigns are starting late and it’s going to create a real challenge going forward, trying to position themselves to get out their message and start building that authentic grassroots. That’s critical as we get closer to the primary election. You need a strong foundation.”

Pointing to past cycles, he said “we’ve seen through the years many of these candidates who may be riding a national wave because of some publicity, when it actually becomes crunch time, those candidates frequently don’t fare as well as the candidates who built out robust grassroots capability.”

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

Paul Steinhauser is a politics reporter based in New Hampshire. 

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