Trump compares himself to Mandela and rails against Biden after filing for New Hampshire primary

Former President Donald Trump listens during his civil fraud trial at the State Supreme Court building in New York, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023. (Jeenah Moon/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

CONCORD, N.H. — Former President Donald Trump compared himself to anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela on Monday as he cast himself as the victim of federal and state prosecutors he alleges are targeting him and his businesses for political reasons.

Returning to New Hampshire to register for its presidential primary, Trump held a rally where he railed against President Joe Biden’s response to the Hamas attack on Israel and vowed to build an Iron Dome-style missile defense shield over the U.S.


But he focused much of his dark and at times profane speech on the criminal and civil cases against him, at one point suggesting he would go to prison like the former South African president who spent 27 years in prison for opposing South Africa’s apartheid system and was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.

“I don’t mind being Nelson Mandela because I’m doing it for a reason,” Trump told am amped-up crowd of supporters at a sports complex in Derry, New Hampshire. “We’ve got to save our country from these fascists, these lunatics that we’re dealing with. They’re horrible people.”

Trump is facing four criminal indictments as well as civil trials that span allegations that he inflated his worth, misclassified hush money payments to women during his 2016 campaign, illegally tried to overturn his 2020 election loss and hoarded classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago club.

The comments came after Trump formally filed for the first-in-the-nation primary, becoming the first person who has served as president to do so in person more than once.

“Vote for Trump and solve your problems,” he wrote on the commemorative poster at the statehouse in Concord that all the candidates are asked to sign.

Candidates this year have until Oct. 27 to officially sign up, and dozens are expected to do so. The process is easy: They only need to meet the basic requirements to be president, fill out a one-page form and pay a $1,000 filing fee. In 2020, 33 Democrats and 17 Republicans signed up. The all-time high was 1992, when 61 people got on the ballot.

Trump won both the 2016 and 2020 Republican primaries in New Hampshire but lost the state in both general elections.

After signing up for the 2016 contest on the first day of the filing period eight years ago, Trump sent then-Vice President Mike Pence to file his paperwork for the 2020 contest. That was in keeping with a tradition of other incumbents who also sent surrogates.

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