Despite his consistent dominance of the polls in the early primary state, New Hampshire's top newspaper doesn't believe Donald Trump will win the state's crucial primary next year.
In a blistering editorial, New Hampshire Union-Leader publisher Joseph W. McQuaid went off on the real estate mogul, calling him a "crude blowhard" whose front-runner status in the 2016 GOP presidential race is an "insult to the intelligence of Republican voters." Trump responded to the op-ed by pointing the finger at one of his rivals in an exclusive interview with WMUR in Manchester, New Hampshire, later on Monday, claiming "Chris is behind this."
The conservative Union-Leader unexpectedly endorsed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for Republican nomination in late November.
Trump, in characteristic fashion, went on the attack, chastising Christie for allegedly shirking his gubernatorial duties in New Jersey while reportedly referring to the paper's endorsement as the "weirdest deal I've ever seen." Since the paper's pick went public, the previously moribund Christie campaign has begun to show signs of life in the New Hampshire polls, but based on the majority of surveys, this is Trump's race to lose right now.
Trump's contentious relationship with the Union-Leader stretches back to this past summer, when the candidate balked at appearing at a voter forum sponsored by the paper, after they published an op-ed criticizing his controversial comments about Sen. John McCain's war record.
"I feel it is unlikely I will be getting the endorsement from you and the Union-Leader. I have made a great fortune based on instinct and that, unfortunately, is my view. Therefore, and for other reasons including the fact that I feel there are too many people onstage to have a proper forum, I will not be attending,” Trump wrote in a letter to McQuaid that was later published in the newspaper.
Since that spat, McQuaid has been increasingly vocal about his opposition to the Trump candidacy, and he has referenced Christie's ability to prevent his nomination as a key factor behind his paper's decision to back the New Jersey governor. "I like Donald Trump personally, he's come up and spoken to groups for me, but he has no business running for president of the United States. He has no talent in that area, which is experience and not being rolled by government. Donald Trump talks a good game, but I don't think there's a lot of substance there," McQuaid said in a Dec. 1 appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe".
In his op-ed, McQuaid went even further, comparing Trump to the bullying "Back to the Future" trilogy villain, Biff Tannen. "On Feb. 9, we trust New Hampshire Republicans will send 'Biff Trump' back to somewhere — anywhere but on the road to the most important elective office in the United States at a most crucial time for this nation," wrote McQuaid.
This is not the first time Trump has been compared to the character who morphs into a meglamaniacal one-percenter during the the second installment of the series. During the hoopla around the commemoration of "Back to the Future Day" this year, the sequel's writer Bob Gale confirmed in a Daily Beast interview that Trump was a direct inspiration for the portrayal of Tannen.
“We thought about it when we made the movie! Are you kidding?” Gale said. “You watch 'Part II' again and there’s a scene where Marty confronts Biff in his office and there’s a huge portrait of Biff on the wall behind Biff, and there’s one moment where Biff kind of stands up and he takes exactly the same pose as the portrait? Yeah.”