From Exeter, New Hampshire –
One of the best lessons that I have learned in my years of covering political election campaigns is that the candidate’s schedule tells a story, and that was certainly clear when Donald Trump’s schedule dropped into my email inbox earlier this week.
A Thursday meeting with local business leaders? A visit to a New Hampshire police station? By Donald Trump?
This is stuff that most every candidate does. But not Donald Trump.
So, I made sure to see Trump on Thursday, in the historic Exeter Town Hall, where some say the modern Republican Party was born.
I also made sure to go early to the Trump event, because I’ve been to the Exeter Town Hall, and it doesn’t seat many people at all.
It is not a typical Trump venue, but it is more retail, New Hampshire.
After parking over by the library, I walked across one of the bridges that goes across the Exeter River – if this doesn’t say New England, then I don’t know what does.
So, I had the nice view, now I got to stand in line for about 45 minutes to get into the Trump event.
There, I ran into my friend and colleague, Dana Bash of CNN; we chatted about Trump’s schedule and the news associated with it – and agreed it was a revamp that we needed to watch.
Once inside, it was a tight fit. I was lucky enough to find a seat behind the TV camera platform, and did a few radio live shots from there.
Then, Donald Trump 2.0 appeared. No insults. Not much boasting. Little talk of the polls. Even when he sparred with protesters, he was nice about it.
And then he took questions. Questions? Trump taking questions?
“Okay, who else?” a beaming Trump said at one point.
If you had never seen Trump, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. But for those who had followed Trump for months – it was a jolt.
“Oh, that was a good answer?” Trump asked the crowd at one point. “I’m outta here!” as Trump left without making a withering verbal attack on any of his Republican rivals.
After Trump finished, I recorded my stories inside the Exeter Town Hall and headed back to the car.
Instead of rushing to another rally, I decided to grab a bite to eat, where I smiled at what the guy in line ahead of me told the woman at the cash register.
“I got in to see Trump!” he said.
After that, I spent the next 90 minutes doing my bureaucratic duty – my expenses from Iowa.
I breathed a sigh of relief when the dialog box on my computer said, “Submitted.”
Then a little while later, an email arrived from Donald Trump’s campaign.
Trump had added a town hall meeting at the Londonderry Lions Club on Friday, before going to South Carolina for a rally.
The schedule tells a story.
Trump is adding a small event in New Hampshire for a second straight day.
He must think he needs to do more in order to win in the Granite State.