Trump Campaign Claims Upper Valley Supporters Who Say They Didn’t Commit

Wednesday, December 30, 2015
West Lebanon — Nancy Partington isn’t a fan of Donald Trump. The Woodsville resident plans to vote for a Republican in the upcoming New Hampshire presidential primary, but thinks the billionaire businessman can sometimes be “a little erratic.”

“I’m going to vote for Jeb Bush,” Partington said in an interview on Monday.

That might be news to Trump’s New Hampshire campaign, since it listed Partington as one of more than 200 town chairs for Trump across the Granite State.

But being named a town chairwoman for Trump was a surprise to Partington, who was one of three people in the Upper Valley who said they had been listed without their knowledge as town chairs for the real estate developer in his presidential campaign.

The Trump chair for Lebanon, meanwhile, said she is a supporter, but is not yet an American citizen, having emigrated from Belarus five years ago, and therefore can’t vote for him.

The Trump campaign released the list last week, with 15 Upper Valley residents representing communities in Grafton and Sullivan counties.

Partington said members of the Trump campaign first called her to ask who she likes in the Republican primary field. She replied that she “kind of liked” Donald Trump and the caller said they would sign her up to receive some letters or a sign for her front lawn. Now, she’s listed as the campaign’s Woodsville chair.

Jackie Bergeron is listed as the Canaan chair. She watches the Republican debates and plans to vote for Trump, but also wasn’t aware of the listing made after she expressed interest in the campaign.

A Mascoma Valley resident also said he was listed incorrectly as a Trump town chairman.

Several email requests for comment sent to Hope Hicks, Trump’s campaign spokeswoman, as well as to a top aide in New Hampshire, were not returned this week.

While some people said they were on the list by mistake, others on the Trump list said they are proud to work for a candidate who bucks establishment Republicans and political correctness.

“I think he’s fighting for everybody that wants America back,” said Croydon chairwoman Barbara Kresse.

She said Trump doesn’t subscribe to the same politically correct talk that she believes to be ruining the country and is up front with his ideas.

“He talks just like a real person,” Kresse said.

Although Trump’s blunt approach appeals to Kresse, it’s also turned off other voters this primary cycle. He’s asserted that the Mexican government was sending rapists and criminals to the Unites States; said Sen. John McCain wasn’t a war hero because he was taken as a prisoner of war; feuded with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly; and called Iowa voters stupid, according to the Associated Press.

His proposal to block Muslims from entering the U.S. was deemed “not what the party stands for” by House Speaker Paul Ryan. And Trump more recently was accused of using vulgarity when he said Hillary Clinton was “favored to win and she got schlonged” during the 2008 Democratic primary.

“He just meant that she was shafted,” Kresse said of Trump’s comments. She said Trump’s critics “don’t have a sense of humor.”

Claremont chairwoman Cheryl Jones said Trump’s support of term limits and claims that he’s self funding his campaign has attracted the negative attention, especially from rival politicians.

“Of course they’re going to call out against him,” Jones said. “He doesn’t like politicians. Period.”

Jones describes herself as a political independent and began the election season supporting Clinton. She was invited to a campaign event for the former first lady and secretary of state in Claremont but didn’t like that it was invitation-only.

“I thought ‘You want to run for president, you get your tail right out in the public,’ ” Jones said.

When Trump entered the race, Jones recalls turning to her husband and telling him that’s who she would be supporting.

“We have his signs all over our property,” she said.

She said he confuses the Republican party’s leadership.

“It scares the upper Republican echelon because he’s honest,” she said. “You ask a question and he’ll give you his answer.”

Trump’s direct manner also appeals to Dick Wentzel, a car dealer and Trump’s Newport town chairman. Wentzel said the media often portrays Trump in a negative light but at events, “he’s very, very sharp and he has things under control.”

Wentzel said he’s watched the campaign and believes Trump is one of the few politicians on the primary trail who can keep his promises.

“We elect these people when they speak and then they go to Washington,” Wentzel said. There, he said, only about a third of politicians can deliver.

“They talk a good story but when they get there, the story’s done,” he said.

Trump’s proposals for the U.S. military also helped attract Jones to his campaign. If elected, he plans to increase its size and work with Russia to strike at the Islamic State group.

“He’s absolutely right. These people (Islamic State militants) have been killing people all over the world,” she said.

Hope for better for relations with Russia is partly why Katsiaryna Kekalo, the Lebanon resident who is not a voter, is supporting Trump’s candidacy. The Lebanon chairwoman emigrated from Belarus, which was formerly part of the Soviet Union, five years ago to earn her doctorate in chemistry, gaining her green card and starting two small businesses in the process.

“I like very much his plans to establish a relationship with Russia,” Kekalo said.

Trump is calling for increased cooperation between the U.S. and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Relations between the two nations have been tense since Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014, and its support of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Kekalo also appreciates Trump’s tough stance on immigration. Having moved to the United States legally, she feels Trump best understands the nation’s illegal immigration problems.

“ It’s not that he’s trying to close the doors to this country,” Kekalo said, “but wants to make sure that people who come into the country do it in a legal and good way.”

For a list of the New Hampshire town chairs released by the Trump campaign, go to http://tinyurl.com/hc3uycq.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.