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Trump got the momentum he wanted in Iowa but New Hampshire is different

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Is democracy still America's sacred cause?

DONALD TRUMP: He's a threat to democracy.

BIDEN: We all know who Donald Trump is.

TRUMP: They've weaponized government. He's saying I'm a threat to democracy.

BIDEN: The question we have to answer is, who are we?

TRUMP: We're teetering on the brink of World War III, and I am the only candidate in this race who's up to the task of saving America from every single Biden disaster.

(CHEERING)

RON DESANTIS: Democrats want Trump to be the candidate. They are going to talk about all the legal stuff, January 6. That will be what the election will be about.

NIKKI HALEY: Chaos follows him, and we can't have a country in disarray and a world on fire and go through four more years of chaos. We won't survive it.

BIDEN: Nobody told me the road would be easy. I don't believe he brought me this far to leave me.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And I'm Michele Martin on this morning after the Iowa caucuses. There you just heard the voices of President Biden, former President Trump and his Republican rivals, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. It was a strong showing for Trump last night, which is the first time voters actually got to vote.

President Trump handily won the Iowa caucuses, taking the early wind out of the sails of his closest rivals, Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis. So what's next for Trump? New Hampshire. He has got the momentum he wanted, but it is a different test in the Granite State, with a high percentage of moderate Republicans and independent voters. NPR's Franco Ordoñez is covering the campaign, and he's here to talk about Trump's next steps and what could be a defining race of this primary season. Good morning, Franco.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Michel.

MARTIN: OK, so Iowa went pretty much according to script. It went pretty much according to what the polls were saying would happen. But New Hampshire is different. What is so key about this first primary for Trump?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, I mean, Trump has always dominated the polls in Iowa, but that's just not the case in New Hampshire. And that's because while, you know, Iowa Republicans are, you know, made up largely of conservatives and evangelical Christians, New Hampshire Republicans include many moderates and independents. I mean, roughly 40% of voters in New Hampshire are undeclared. Also, New Hampshire has a lot of very well-educated voters, and Trump does better with voters who do not have college degrees. So he's just got a lot more vulnerabilities in New Hampshire.

MARTIN: Are there any parallels that can be drawn from Iowa that could apply to New Hampshire?

ORDOÑEZ: I mean, of course, it is a different electorate. But, you know, I was, you know, watching, you know, last night, you know, kind of all those precincts in the Iowa suburbs where there are more moderate Republicans. You know, and Haley and DeSantis, they did better in the suburbs, where voters are more college-educated, affluent, moderate, more like New Hampshire. But Trump basically won those groups, too. I mean, he won almost every single county. So that could bode well for him going into New Hampshire, as well. And also, he got a bump from Vivek Ramaswamy, who dropped out and endorsed Trump.

MARTIN: Does any of this affect his strategy in New Hampshire?

ORDOÑEZ: You know, Trump's very well aware of Haley's rising status in New Hampshire, the poll momentum she's had. And that's why you've heard him, you know, increasing his attacks. You saw that on the campaign ads. You saw that on the trail. You know, and he's likely to shift his message a bit as well for New Hampshire voters. I spoke with Bryan Lanza. He's a former Trump aide who is still close to the campaign. You know, he spoke of New Hampshire being a small government state, you know, no sales tax, no income tax. So you can expect to hear Trump, going forward, touting his record of cutting taxes. But Lanza says a more effective strategy may just be capitalizing on the momentum that he has, you know, taking the importance out of New Hampshire.

BRYAN LANZA: You start talking about where you're winning everywhere else and how you're beating Joe Biden. And Nikki Haley, you know, she's running in - what? - third place in her home state of South Carolina. I mean, that's the message you sort of tell is even her own state doesn't trust her, they trust President Trump more.

ORDOÑEZ: You know, what he's saying, Michel, is that - arguing that this is all a foregone conclusion, so you might as well get on board. And that's how, he says, you devalue what New Hampshire means.

MARTIN: You know, one of the things that's been really noteworthy is how the former president has campaigned very differently than his rivals have. I mean, Ron DeSantis made a point of going to every county in Iowa. Trump certainly didn't do that, you know, sort of very little presence there. A lot of spending in the state, but, you know, Trump just hasn't been very visible. And I'm just wondering whether that changes in New Hampshire.

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah, Trump has not been very visible in New Hampshire, especially compared to Nikki Haley, who's been all over. You know, but he has stacked his schedule over the next several days, so it is going to be different. He is expected to stop first today in New York to attend the Jean Carroll defamation hearing, you know, which is just another illustration of how his legal troubles are so intertwined with his campaign. But then he's got, you know, a busy schedule in New Hampshire. He's going to speak tonight in Atkinson, N.H. That's going to be followed by rallies in Portsmouth and then Concord, and then this weekend, Manchester and then Rochester.

You know, I think it's another indication that he recognizes how important New Hampshire is. He does, though, again, have the momentum coming out of Iowa. You know, he's long wanted a big dominant win in Iowa. In New Hampshire, he wants to shut out his competition and stop everyone else's momentum. You know, he's halfway there. But there are a lot of forces against Trump in New Hampshire, including the governor, Chris Sununu, who see the state as the last best chance to stop Trump.

MARTIN: That is NPR's Franco Ordoñez. Franco, thank you.

ORDOÑEZ: Thank you, Michel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.
Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.