They acknowledge Donald Trump’s dominance, but weary Republicans across New Hampshire — even inside the governor’s office — are fighting to stop the former president from winning the first-in-the-nation primary.
For now, however, they’re relying on little more than hope and prayers.
Look no further than Mike Pence, Trump’s former vice president, who repeatedly appealed to voters’ faith this week as he tried to resurrect his anemic presidential campaign while courting a few dozen voters in a former state lawmaker’s backyard.
“I truly do believe that different times call for different leadership,” Pence told his modest crowd. “I know you all are going to do your job, because I have faith. I have faith in the American people.”
More than a dozen high-profile Republicans are looking to New Hampshire, the state long known for shining on political underdogs, to help stop Trump’s march toward a third consecutive Republican presidential nomination. But so far, none has cracked the veneer of inevitability that has followed Trump through the early states on the presidential primary calendar despite — or perhaps because of — his mounting legal challenges.
A significant portion of the Republican electorate remains open to a new presidential nominee with less baggage than Trump. But months after many of them entered the race, there is little sign that the former president’s rivals are breaking through.
The strongest Trump alternative on paper, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, has already begun to lay off staff amid unexpected financial challenges and stagnant poll numbers. Others have failed to break out of the single digits in early polls. And as Trump braces for the possibility of a third criminal indictment, his hold on the party appears to be stronger than ever.
Pence, perhaps more than anyone, has been dragged down by the powerful undertow of Trumpism that has reshaped the political landscape for much of the last decade.
Pence barely regist