SALT LAKE CITY — Donald Trump heads to South Carolina for the Feb. 20 primary with a lead and momentum following a big win in New Hampshire.
“New Hampshire was great,” Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., said. “It was a good win, it was a big win. A lot of confidence and momentum.”
Trump Jr., who is an avid hunter and outdoor enthusiast, arrived in Utah Thursday. He will be the keynote speaker Saturday at the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo at the Salt Palace Convention Center.
He said his visit to Utah with his family is a much needed break from campaigning for his father. The Trump children are actively campaigning for their father, and they say it's been hard keeping up with him.
"But he just keeps going,” Trump Jr. said. “He doesn't sleep, he doesn’t stop. It's been exciting to watch, because the message is resonating so well with Americans … whether it be the big businessmen that are supporting him, or the blue collar guy who says, ‘Hey, finally someone is saying what I’ve been thinking all time, but I’ve never had that soapbox.’ He has that soapbox and the platform, and he’s doing it for this country.”
When he's out campaigning and shaking hands, Trump Jr. said he hears that it's his father's straightforward approach that is appealing to the public.
“They love that he speaks his mind,” he said. “There’s no wondering what he’s thinking and pretending. … That forward nature, it’s difficult for some people to adjust to, but he’s gotten to the point where our problems are real. These are serious problems, and they have to be actually discussed.”
When asked if he cringes when he hears some of the things his father has said, he said, “I don’t. I’m used to it. His delivery and message sometimes is abrupt, and I understand that. But I think it’s because he’s so frustrated at this point with what is going on in this country, because no one’s willing to say it. I think sometimes you have to (smacks hands) say it in that way … because you have to drive the point home … and guess what, he's done it and now those are real talking points."
Utah Republicans have been slow to embrace Trump.
One of Trump's statements and campaign positions, requiring that Muslims should be barred from entering the United States in light of terrorist attacks here and abroad, went too far for Utahns, pollster Dan Jones said following a poll of Utah residents at the end of December. Trump has not backed down from that position.
Utah poll respondents favored Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio over Trump in the poll, conducted by Dan Jones and Associates for UtahPolicy.com.
Nevertheless, Trump Jr., as an avid outdoorsman, said he understands the land issues in the West and said he will likely return on his father's behalf to campaign and hear the concerns of those in Utah.
Trump said it's been a whirlwind four months so far, but he said the big New Hampshire win really gives the campaign momentum, and he's excited about the future of the campaign.
"I'm learning on the fly. We all are. And I think we're doing remarkably well, considering we're learning on the fly,” he said, “But that's because we've run real businesses and we understand how things ultimately will work. But we're putting it together as we go, so it's been great."
After spending a few days skiing and relaxing, Trump Jr. said it'll be back to 18-hour days trying to make his dad the GOP nominee.
Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc