Lara Trump dismisses talk of Republican challenging Trump in New Hampshire primary

“Stay out of Democrats way, we’re going to let them battle it out," she said.

April 2, 2019, 10:50 PM

Lara Trump, a senior adviser for President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, stopped at a fundraiser in New Hampshire Tuesday and told attendees their campaign’s plan is to “stay out of Democrats way” and “let them battle it out.”

But in New Hampshire, the battle isn’t just between Democrats and Republicans. Some prominent Republican state leaders aren’t working to help get the president re-elected – in fact, they’re actively working against it.

Lara Trump’s stop in New Hampshire, which holds the first primary in the nation, falls on the heels of a week-long visit by former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, who is considering challenging the president in the Republican primary.

“My odds at getting in are better than half,” Weld told ABC News, adding that he believed it would be “morally iffy if no one raised their hand against the president.”

Lara Trump was quick to dismiss any notion of a potential challenger to her father-in-law.

“I would hope that no one would be – I don’t want to say dumb enough – but dumb enough to run against Donald Trump.” Trump said in an interview with WMUR, a local ABC affiliate in Manchester, New Hampshire.

But Weld accused the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, which declared their “undivided support” for the president in 2020, of trying to stop any type of contest altogether.

“I don’t know what they’re afraid of but they’re afraid of something,” he said.

While in New Hampshire, Weld said he's met with voters who were "dismayed" and frustrated with the gridlock in Washington, pitching himself as a prospective candidate who is economically conservative and would be willing to reach across the aisle on issues like health care.

"There’s not much in common between the two of us, other than we’re both large orange men," he said.

A short drive away from Massachusetts, Weld has strategically gauged how voters are reacting in New Hampshire – a state that often sets the tone by holding the first primary in the U.S.

He has also attracted the attention of former state Republican leaders. The former chairwoman of the New Hampshire Republican party is working as an adviser to Weld and another former state party chair welcomed the former governor into his home for an event.

PHOTO: Lara Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, Oct. 22, 2018.
Lara Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, Oct. 22, 2018.
AFP/Getty Images, FILE

"I acknowledge that’s a minority view in the party but that doesn’t mean we have to accept a re-nomination of this president or another term," said Fergus Cullen, the former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party. Cullen, a self-identified "Never Trumper," hosted Weld and 60 voters at his home over the weekend.

While 68% of likely Republican voters said they would vote for President Trump in a February poll by the University of New Hampshire, Cullen is still keeping out hope.

“Be careful with a guy that got nothing to lose,” Cullen said.

The state's Republican party, according to their bylaws, must remain "strictly neutral" in a primary contest. The newly-elected chairman, Steve Stepanek, who co-chaired the president's New Hampshire campaign in 2016, still believes his party is united on both a state and national front.

"We welcome all legitimate candidates," Stepanek said. "I find it disheartening that we have people actively looking to try to encourage people to challenge the president."

Now, the state Republican party is looking to ramp up their efforts after Democrats held onto two U.S. House seats in the midterm elections and won the majority in the state legislature.

“We have to understand that the Democrats have out-organized us, out-raised us, and quite frankly we have to do a better job as a party,” Stepanek said.

He plans to rebound with a focus on training, expansion of their town committees and fundraising. The fundraiser Tuesday night brought in $70,000, according to a state party official. On a national level, the RNC raised $14.6 million in February, the second highest February ever, with more than half of the donations coming from small-dollar donors, according to an RNC official.

As Democrats continue to amplify their presence in New Hampshire, Lara Trump shrugged off a challenger from either party.

“Are we worried about Joe Biden? Not really,” she said. “Joe Biden had a shot for eight years in the Obama administration to do great things for this country and we didn’t see a whole lot come out of that,” she told WMUR.

Hurling insults at Democratic candidates, Lara Trump called Beto O’Rourke a ‘skateboarder’ and referred to Sen. Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas,” repeating rhetoric used by her father-in-law to target Warren.

“I still say save your money, don’t waste your money or time running against Donald Trump in 2020 because you’re not going to beat him. Save it until 2024,” Trump said.

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