At his Manchester headquarters on Thursday, five days out from the New Hampshire primary, Donald Trump offered reporters his outlook on the state of the race, downplaying the importance of a strong ground game in New Hampshire.
"I feel fine, I mean, we have what we have," Trump said. "People like us. We seem to be doing very well. Here, it's a little less about ground game: it's like, you go out you vote. Here, you go out, you pull a trigger and come back. You don't sit around for an hour and a half."
Trump has faced criticism for not investing in a strong infrastructure in Iowa and in the Granite State in order to turn out his targeted demographic: low propensity voters.
Republican operatives in the state also warn that the Trump campaign's refusal to put together a sophisticated and serious ground game operation in early voting states should be a warning for voters that Trump will not be able to put together the operation needed to defeat Democrats in the general election.
Ryan Williams, a Republican strategist who supports Jeb Bush, said that Trump's team has done a great deal of bloviating but has not proven they can run a campaign. Williams referred to Trump's Iowa operation as a "mirage."
"That's an embarrassing assessment of how to run a campaign," Williams said of Trump's comments dismissing the importance of organization. "He has no idea how to run a serious political operation. While he is favored to win the primary, if he doesn't have a ground game, he's going to fall short of expectations he's set for himself."
At Trump's event in Exeter earlier in the day, an electronic sign had been planted in front of Exeter Town Hall, reminding voters that primary day was February 9th, 2016.
While most of crowd embraced Trump's calls to build a wall that Mexico would pay for -- singing the word "Mexico" in unison -- the billionaire front-runner took on one high school-aged protester who shouted that illegal immigrants were the backbone of America.
"I don't think so darling, I don't think so," Trump said to a chorus of boos. "You know what's the backbone of our country? People that came here and they came here legally. People that came to this country legally, and they worked their ass off, and they made the country great. That's the backbone."
When Trump wasn't talking about building a wall, corporate inversions or anchor babies, he was reminding the raucous young crowd repeatedly to get out and vote. At first lighthearted and encouraging, his final call to vote closed out his first event of the day with a more ominous tone.
"Folks, February 9th -- let's go get it, we're going to take our country back," Trump said. "We're not going to take Sergeant Bergdahl, who is a dirty rotten traitor, and the trade where they get Bergdahl, and they get five of the people most coveted for nine years, and they are back on the battle field killing people and wanting to kill you. So we're going to do smart deals, we're going to do great deals. We're going to make America great again. February 9th."