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Primary 2020: Trump loyalists turn out in the Upper Valley

  • Peter Lovely, of Newport, N.H., finds the right line to check into, on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. Lovely took a GOP ballot to cast his vote. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Peter Lovely, of Newport, N.H., finds the right line to check into, on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. Lovely took a GOP ballot to cast his vote. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Kathy Niboli, left, a ballot clerk checks Randy Nelson, of Newport, N.H., in on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in Newport. Nelson voted for Donald Trump. Ballot clerk Jacqueline Cote waits for more primary voters to come to her side of the table. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/11/2020 9:42:57 PM
Modified: 2/11/2020 11:23:38 PM

NEWPORT — New Hampshire’s Republican presidential primary ballot had 17 candidates for voters to choose from, but most Upper Valley Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said they stuck with President Donald Trump as they exited the polls on Tuesday.

“I like that he’s up front,” said Newport Republican Jay Fowler, 44. “He’s real.”

“He’s done a good job,” added John Eastman, a 66-year-old independent from Lebanon.

Eastman, who wore a ball cap with an American flag on it, said Trump deserves an “unhindered term” to pursue his policy priorities on foreign issues, as well as economics and trade.

Most Republican primary voters on Tuesday said they were undeterred by Trump’s recent impeachment, were happy with his performance so far and hoped he would get another term. Some Trump supporters, like Fowler, pointed to Trump’s communication style as the reason for their support, while others said they like what he’s done for the economy.

Several voters in Newport, a Republican stronghold in the Upper Valley, walked by volunteers holding signs for Democratic candidates Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg outside the Newport Opera House to cast ballots for Trump. In 2016, Trump beat Hillary Clinton by a wide margin in Newport, 1,665-1,085.

He lost the state to Clinton by fewer than 3,000 votes out of 743,000 cast.

For Newport voter Pauline Watts, 66, the deciding factor wasn’t Trump’s style, which she said could use “more finesse.” Instead, Watts said she likes Trump’s economic policies. She said taxes and the overall business climate are “going in the right direction” under Trump’s leadership.

Newport Republicans James and Janet McMahon, both 71, didn’t consider any of the other Republicans on the ballot.

“He’s the best choice,” James McMahon said.

Newport voter James Smith, 34, also cast his ballot for Trump. Pointing to the stock market and the unemployment rate, Smith said, “I basically like what he’s done for the country.”

Even some independents who cast their ballot in the Democratic primary said they may still back Trump in the general election.

Richard Blake, a 73-year-old former Marine and an independent in Newport, said he threw his support to Bernie Sanders on Tuesday because he likes his frank communication style. But Blake said no matter who wins the Democratic nomination, he will back Trump in November, and he doesn’t think Trump will have any trouble winning.

“I think he’s an awesome man,” Blake said of Trump. “He’s for the veterans.”

He also praised Trump for speaking his mind.

“I like Trump,” Blake said. He “tells it like it is.”

Lebanon Republican Ali Massa, who called herself fiscally conservative, said she voted for Trump, noting her “upbringing and values” as reasons for the decision. As a scientist at Dartmouth College, Massa said she’s excited by Trump’s work to support women in STEM.

And Grantham resident Emmons Cobb said he voted for Trump because the president is best positioned to preserve Americans’ “individual freedoms.”

“One of the reasons that this country has done so well so quickly compared to other countries that have existed for thousands of years is that we have individual freedoms,” said Cobb, 75.

Cobb, who has traditionally voted Republican but considers himself an “independent thinker,” said he didn’t think former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld was well suited for the position.

“I don’t think he did all that well for Massachusetts,” he said.

In Claremont, which Trump won by a narrow margin in 2016, Jonathan Hood, 19, a college student who recently got a job as an electrician’s apprentice, voted for Trump in his first presidential primary.

“I believe in gun rights,” Hood, a registered Republican, said when asked why Trump. “He seems to be doing what he said he would do and the economy is excellent. There is a ton of work out there.”

In Canaan, which Clinton won by a narrow margin in 2016, Peter Moyer cast his ballot for Trump.

“Just look at the economy. Look at the nation,” said Moyer, 73. “It’s never been better.”

“I just hope everybody votes and we see what happens,” he added.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213. Liz Sauchelli, Anna Merriman, Tim Camerato and Patrick O’Grady contributed to this  report.




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