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In State House stop, Trump makes 2024 NH primary bid official

Supporters of Donald Trump greet him as he walks to the New Hampshire State House. Secret Service agents were spread across the State House complex.
Zoey Knox
Former President Donald Trump greets supporters on the steps of the New Hampshire State House on Monday, Oct. 23, 2023. He was in Concord to file for the New Hampshire presidential primary in person.

Former President Donald Trump visited the State House in Concord Monday to officially file the paperwork needed to get his name on the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary ballot.

NHPR’s Josh Rogers has been following the 2024 race and he joined NHPR’s All Things Considered Host Julia Furukawa to talk about what he saw at the State House Monday.


Trump's first New Hampshire stop today was a pretty standard one for presidential candidates this time of year: the Secretary of State's office. 

Yes and no. Administratively, candidates are required to hand in the paperwork needed to get on the ballot. Ritually, there's a reality that candidates tend to like to show up to the State House to try to show deference to the New Hampshire primary, which did, after all, launch Trump in 2016. And so Trump did what pretty much all candidates do. He showed up with $1,000 and a pen, and he signed the paperwork to get on the ballot. But this was obviously different: the State House security was very, very high, [with] heavy Secret Service presence. Secretary of State David Scanlan says that no former president has ever filed in person to run in the New Hampshire primary.

This all comes after the earlier determination by Scanlan that Trump could be on the ballot in the first place. There are some legal scholars who would argue that under the 14th Amendment [to the U.S. Constitution], Trump could be barred from the ballot due to his role in the January 6th insurrection, basically, that Trump's conduct amounted to treason. So there's already a lot in Trump's appearance on the ballot that's different. But there were a lot of similar things. There were certainly plenty of happy sign-waving supporters on hand as he filed.

It sounds like the atmosphere was a little different for Trump than some of the other candidates. Can you tell me what it was like in the room when he filed his paperwork?

There was a real air of confidence. He cited the poll numbers that do show him well ahead of the rest of the Republican field. ‘Trump will solve your problems’ was the message he put on the placard that all candidates filing for the New Hampshire primary sign. But again, there were many, many reminders of how unusual a political moment we're in. When he faced reporters, Trump was asked about the criminal charges he now faces, which he dismissed as unfounded allegations driven by political revenge. He was also questioned about where he stood on the unresolved matter of who's going to be the next Speaker of the House in Congress. That impasse is within the Republican Party. And you could argue it was really created by Trump's own brand of politics — confrontational, conspiracy-minded politics. It was really a small bloc of House Republicans fiercely loyal to Trump, who did force Kevin McCarthy out as speaker a few weeks ago.

Josh, you mentioned polling, which shows Trump ahead by a wide margin in the Republican primary at the moment. But you spent time in the hours ahead of Trump's State House visit outside the building, talking to supporters who had gathered. What did you hear from them?

Well, a lot of excitement, lots of confidence about Trump's chances. Based on the polling, he is up 3-to-1 over his nearest rivals on pretty much every poll. [I] also heard a great deal of loyalty from some core backers. One of the people who turned out to welcome Trump to the statehouse was a woman named Mary Donnelly. She was a volunteer on Trump's first primary campaign back here in 2015. And she told me she really still sees him as president.

“I am so excited to see the president again, and I've seen him multiple times since 15. And now to see him here. He is going to win. He is going to be the biggest landslide they've ever seen in this country,” Donnelly said.

Now, obviously, we're a long way from any of that. But today did show that Trump's grip on his core loyalists, at least some of them, appears very much intact. And that's something that those hoping to defeat him in the New Hampshire primary and for the Republican nomination are going to have to deal with. One of those people hoping to defeat him, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, will be campaigning in New Hampshire tomorrow. He'll be accompanied all day long by Gov. Chris Sununu. Sununu hasn't yet endorsed in this race, but he's bent on defeating Trump in the primary. That's going to take some doing.

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.
Julia Furukawa is the host of All Things Considered at NHPR. She joined the NHPR team in 2021 as a fellow producing ATC after working as a reporter and editor for The Paris News in Texas and a freelancer for KNKX Public Radio in Seattle.
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