NASHUA, New Hampshire (REUTERS) - Republican United States presidential frontrunner Donald Trump urged supporters on Monday (Dec 28) to carry their enthusiasm into voting booths, citing recent news reports questioning whether he can turn his polling strength into victories in key primary states.
New Hampshire residents will be the first Americans to cast votes in the 2016 presidential primaries, where a candidate is chosen from each party to stand in the general presidential election. New Hampshire's primary is set for Feb 9.
"We have got to get out and vote, remember that, folks, no matter what's going on in your life," Trump said in an hour-long speech to roughly 1,000 people at a rally in a middle school gymnasium in Nashua.
"I was watching today television and they said 'well if those people actually get out and vote...'," he said, noting that attendance at his rallies has been strong for months. "They said, 'well if they vote, Trump wins'."
The New York businessman is ahead in polls of most early primary states but he is now neck-and-neck with Texas Senator Ted Cruz in Iowa, which holds its primary caucus - a different format from an election - on Feb 1.
A New York Times report on Dec 20 said Trump's "ground game" isn't as strong as some of his rivals. This refers to the network of paid staffers and volunteers each candidate must build to ensure his or her supporters make it to the polls on election day.
Political analysts have also pointed out that many Trump supporters are people who don't habitually participate in elections or have never voted before.
Lee Rogers, 37, who attended Monday's (Dec 28) rally and lives in nearby Londonderry, New Hampshire, was one such Trump fan. He said he hadn't voted in eight years. His last choice for president was the Republican Ron Paul, a libertarian from Texas who has long advocated abolishing the US Federal Reserve.
Rogers said he would not be voting this time if Trump was not running. "I think everybody except for Trump is a complete clown," he said.
The crowd in the sparsely populated northeastern state was smaller than those Trump has attracted in other cities. However, so many people had still come to see him on Monday (Dec 28) that he held a second, "overflow" rally immediately after the first to accommodate those who were shut out but waited for more than an hour in other parts of the school to see him.