MANCHESTER, N.H. — The clear front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination and the Republican candidate who has become a headache for many in his own party as he surges in the polls will descend on this key early voting state on Thursday, giving voters here a glimpse of two contenders who have received widespread attention in recent weeks.
Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton (D) will make two campaign stops here as she looks to expand on ideas she offered in her Monday economic policy speech: an early afternoon town hall in Dover then an organizing event in Windham. The town hall meeting will be Clinton’s first of the campaign.
Not far away will be Donald Trump (R), the real estate mogul who has become a sharply polarizing figure in Republican circles. Trump will hold a campaign rally and field questions in Laconia.
Two other candidates will also be in the state to campaign: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R). Walker, who officially kicked off his campaign on Monday, is sweeping through the early voting states this week.
But the presence of Clinton and Trump here presents each party with key early tests in the first-in-the-nation primary state.
For Clinton, who has faced criticism for Republicans that she has not opened herself up to enough scrutiny, the town hall will serve as a chance to field questions from voters in an unscripted setting. It’s also a chance for Clinton to speak in more detail about the corporate profit-sharing proposal she spoke about in general terms in her Monday speech.
An impressive showing could blunt some of the momentum Clinton’s Democratic rival from neighboring Vermont, Sen. Bernie Sanders, has picked up in recent weeks. But a rocky one could spur more interest from voters here in the liberal firebrand.
Trump, who comes to New Hampshire as polls show he has climbed into the top tier of Republican hopefuls, will have a chance to to address criticism from those who say he is hurting his own party. His visit is a chance to convince skeptical Republicans in a crucial state that he is a serious candidate for president — or to fall flat trying.
Some Republicans have praised Trump’s blunt style, but others have expressed concern that his brash rhetoric and controversial comments about illegal immigrants from Mexico — he said they are “rapists” who are bringing “drugs” and “crime” into the country — have harmed the Republican Party, which has struggled in recent elections to win Hispanic voters.
Those looking to see Clinton and Trump in the same state will have another chance the next two days. Trump is the feature speaker at a Republican dinner on Friday in Arkansas. On Saturday, Clinton will speak at a Democratic dinner in the state, where she was first lady when husband Bill Clinton was governor.