WATCH: Trump holding a campaign rally in New Hampshire

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) - President Donald Trump has returned to the state that gave him his first presidential primary victory, looking to once again demonstrate his popularity with New Hampshire's Republican voters.

President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019, in Manchester, N.H. | Photo Source: AP Photo / Patrick Semansky

Trump is holding a campaign rally Thursday night at Southern New Hampshire University.

The rally starts at 23:50 in the attached livestream.

Trump's polling numbers in New Hampshire would indicate that the president will have an uphill climb winning the state in 2020. He lost to Democrat Hillary Clinton by about 2,700 votes in 2016, and the state has shown over the years that it's no pushover for either party.

New Hampshire's four Electoral College votes are far below those of key swing states like Florida, Wisconsin and Michigan, but its influence can prove powerful in close election years.

President Trump told supporters that even if they don't like him, they have to vote for him because their retirements depend on it.

He said, "Whether you love me or hate me, you have to vote for me."

The president praised his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who's considering a run for Senate in his home state of New Hampshire.

Trump described Lewandowski as "tough and smart" and said he was the first person who told him he could win the White House.

Trump said Lewandowski still hasn't decided whether to jump in the race, but said if he does, "I think he'll be tough to beat."

Two prominent Republicans already have announced campaigns to challenge Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen: retired Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc and former New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O'Brien.

New Hampshire Democratic spokesman Josh Marcus-Blank called Lewandowski a shadow lobbyist. He cited Lewandowski's run-in with a female reporter during the 2016 presidential primary in saying "Lewandowski, with his record of violence, will make an already nasty Republican primary even worse."

Lewandowski was charged with misdemeanor battery for grabbing a reporter's arm at an event. The charge was later dropped.

President Trump said that in the wake of two mass shootings in Ohio and Texas this month that he wants to focus on mental illness to prevent mass gun violence, not gun control.

He said he wants to re-open mental institutions across the country, but did not provide details on his proposal.

He said: "We will be taking mentally deranged and dangerous people off of the streets so we won't have to worry so much about them. A big problem." He added, "There are seriously ill people and they're on the streets."

Trump said that what he won't allow after those shootings are any measures to make it harder for "law-abiding" people to "protect themselves."

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