OAN National Political Correspondent Daniel Baldwin
2:20 PM – Friday, April 28, 2023
As I settled in and took a seat in the back of the newly renovated Trump Force One, the plane’s namesake Donald Trump walked up.
“What did the latest Emerson poll say?” the 45th president asked, turning to me.
“It shows you leading DeSantis 62% to 16%, sir,” I responded.
“So he’s tanking,” Trump responded. “That’s a good poll.”
Trump walked back to his seat in the belly of his newly refurbished 757-200. The Emerson Poll he was referring to showed the 45th president sporting a 46% advantage over Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. This is Trump’s largest lead to date.
The flight from West Palm Beach to Manchester, New Hampshire featured the team in work mode – huddled away in the conference room as we sat in the back with secret service. Unlike most Save America rallies, this was a slightly different event. It was designed to be a smaller, more intimate environment. Trump even invited his New Hampshire victory team to sit on stage when he delivered his remarks.
We landed around 3:30 p.m., and a confident Trump deliberately walked down the plane’s stairs. But before ducking into his assigned car, he turned to the press and yelled, “Do I look good?” He walked over to us, waved, and then slipped into his car – zipping away to address an eager crowd.
Unlike other events, the traveling press was not stationed on the normal media risers. We were led in through a back door and were stationed on the right side of the stage. I have covered countless Trump campaign events, but the intensity of his New Hampshire supporters immediately jumped out to me. They were constantly cheering and chanting – wanting to ensure their president knew how excited they were to personally welcome him to the Granite State.
Trump delivered remarks before a crowd of 2,000 boisterous fans. The Trump Campaign said they filled in the stadium to max capacity and had to turn away thousands of supporters. Multiple New Hampshire polls show Trump towering over GOP competition across the state. J.L. Partners says the 45th president holds a 33% lead over DeSantis, while a University of New Hampshire poll has Trump up 20%. Trump won the Republican New Hampshire primary election in both 2016 and 2020.
Trump focused his speech on President Joe Biden, turning his main attention to a seemingly unavoidable rematch.
“Biden only cares about enriching his own family,” Trump told the packed room of his energetic supporters. “I care about enriching your family.”
Trump promised his supporters that he was “going to crush Joe Biden at the ballot box, and we are going to settle our unfinished business.” He even announced he was retiring the nickname “Crooked Hillary,” so he could apply it to Biden in 2024.
Biden formally announced his bid for re-election this past week, claiming that he still had more work to “finish the job.” Biden released a pre-taped video Tuesday at 6 a.m. to make things official, framing “MAGA extremists” as threats to democracy. Trump had none of it.
“In [Biden’s video], he says he is running because Trump and MAGA pose a threat to democracy,” Trump said. “Can you believe it? MAGA means ‘Make America Great Again.’ No threat there. No, it is Biden that poses the threat to democracy.”
“With such a calamitous presidency, it’s almost inconceivable that Biden would have thought to run for re-election,” Trump continued.
After wrapping his speech with a Q&A session with supporters, Trump made his way to the Red Arrow Diner. Trump stepped into the crammed restaurant where he signed hats and hugged and kissed supporters. He was even presented with a ‘Trump Tower Burger,’ one of the diner’s most famous dishes.
Following our departure from New Hampshire, we climbed back aboard. I found myself more at ease. Enough to more fully absorb the fact I was actually inside Trump’s 757.
Trump Force One sports more than 40 seats along with a bedroom, conference area, and a state room. I spent the entire flight to New Hampshire in the back with one other journalist. The airplane also offers state of the art WIFI, allowing passengers to work during any trip. But neither of us would forfeit the chance to discuss the NFL draft with Trump, an avid sportsman, with work emails we could catch up on later.
Once in the air, we were greeted with a row of silver platters carrying none other than an array of McDonald’s finest burgers for dinner. Trump asked the flight attendant to turn on the NFL Draft, and he promptly invited us to join him in the conference area to watch.
We chatted with a relaxed, warm, welcoming Trump the rest of the flight back to Florida. To every reporter’s general disappointment, nothing we discussed was “on the record” – but what we did get was time with the 45th president with the cameras off (a rare occurrence these days). Off camera Trump, surrounded by his people, his plane, his domain, is an incredibly down to earth Trump. Lounging in his captain’s chair, the tieless Trump let loose on everything from the GOP primary to sports (particularly the NFL and UFC). Contrary to the popular opinion of his mortal enemies, Trump was keenly interested in hearing our opinion on every topic discussed, absorbing each word with his undivided attention. It’s clear Trump values the opinions of everyone he surrounds himself with, whether he agrees or disagrees. He even turned to me and said, “You really know your sports.”
Once our conversation ended, Trump asked us to stay in the main conference area to continue to watch the NFL Draft as he poured over documents, signed merchandise, and made phone calls. Trump’s energy throughout the night remained unmatched. Despite traveling all day, the 45th president bustled with energy during the entire four hour flight back to West Palm Beach – a very different energy than what Secret Service for President Joe Biden witness no doubt.
Trump stepped off his private plane shortly after 11:30 p.m. – concluding a 12 hour travel day. Waving to us one last time before ducking into his motorcade, the 45th president returned home. Another successful trip for the books.
Trump is clearly chomping at the bit for 2024 – more eager than ever to step up to the plate for the American people. When the New Hampshire crowd serenaded the 45th president with “We love Trump” chants. Trump threw the love back at them; “I love you too.” he said, “That’s why I’m doing this.”
And it’s clear that he means this. Trump’s interactions with the everyday American motivate him. They drive and fuel him. What New Hampshire is so good at demonstrating is how the people reciprocate this energy. Just watch how people react when Trump stops at a local pizza shop, ice cream store, restaurant, or town. The silent majority has not forgotten who stepped up and gave them a voice in 2015. And it’s clear they want him back in 2024.
And that should terrify Joe Biden.