Holderness, NH -- With voting around the corner in crucial New Hampshire, Donald Trump is playing up his populism.
Speaking to a crowd of hundreds at Plymouth State University, Trump’s message was consistent: Everyone else is bought, and that’s why they can’t bring change.
He used Medicare drug prices as his first example -- he’s joined Democrats in proposing that the government use its clout to negotiate lower drug prices, an idea normally anathema in conservative politics.
"For some reason, I don't know what the reason is -- I do know what the reason is, but I don't know how they can sell it -- we're not allowed to negotiate drug prices, can you believe it?" Trump said.
Trump predicted Jeb Bush would avoid taking on the issue as president because Woody Johnson, whose family founded Johnson & Johnson, served as his campaign chairman.
“I have no friends, as far as I’m concerned,” Trump said. “You know who my friends are? You’re my friends.”
By contrast, Trump said his private fortune would enable him to say no to wealthy interests after the election. He’s complained recently that he doesn’t get enough credit for self-financing -- Trump does accept campaign donations, but he and Bernie Sanders are the only two major candidates turning down super PAC support.
"I don't need your money, I need your vote," Trump said.
The event wasn’t the most raucous rally of Trump supporters, but it was a chance for him to persuade holdouts. A number of voters in the audience who talked to MSNBC said they were still picking their candidate.
“This is the first time since I started voting in the 1980s that I still have no idea who I’m voting for,” Dianna Green, 53, told MSNBC shortly before Trump took the stage.
For Green, Trump “seemed liked the one who could bring about the most change,” but she was still put off by his penchant for insults. She was impressed with Chris Christie in last night’s debate and “disappointed” with Sen. Marco Rubio, whom she was also considering.
Trump didn’t tone things down on the insult front. He singled out “poor, poor, poor Jeb Bush” in particular, whom he mocked mid-speech for bringing his mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush, on the campaign trail.
“Mommy, please come! Walk in the snow, Mom!” Trump said. “I like his mother, but I don’t like that stuff.”
He also took on Sen. Ted Cruz, who bested him in Iowa last week, for hesitating to endorse waterboarding in Saturday’s debate. Cruz said it was not torture but that he would only authorize it in extreme circumstances.
“Ted, he wanted to stay away from it; I didn’t,” Trump said. He said he would immediately institute the technique and allow “much worse than waterboarding” against terror suspects.
“We are living in medieval times,” Trump said. “Waterboarding is peanuts compared to what they’re doing.”